FIRST THINGS FIRST
“In the middle of a seminar on time management the lecturer said, ‘okay, it’s time for a quiz.’
Reaching under the table, he pulled out a huge glass jar and set it on the table next to a tray covered with stones the size of a fist. "How many of these rocks do you think we can get into this jar?" he asked the audience.
After the students made their guesses, the seminar leader said, "okay, let's find out." He put one stone in the jar, then another, then another, until no more would fit. Then he asked, "is the jar full?"
Everybody could see that not one more of the stones would fit, so they said, "Yes."
"Not so fast," he cautioned. From under the table he lifted out a bucket of gravel, dumped it in the jar and shook it. The gravel slid into all the little space left by the big rocks.
Grinning, the seminar leader asked once more, "is the jar full?" A little wiser now the students responded, "probably not."
"Good," the teacher said. Then he reached under the table to bring up a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand into the jar. While the students watched, the sand filled in the little spaces left by the rocks and the gravel. Once again he looked at the class and said, "Now is the jar full?"
“No,” everyone shouted back.
"Good," said the seminar leader, who then grabbed a huge jug of water and began to pour it into the jar. He poured about half a gallon of it into the stones, the gravel and the sand, before he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, the jar is now full. Can anyone tell the lesson you can learn from this? What’s my point?"
An eager participant spoke up, "well, there are gaps in all our diaries and if you really work at it, you can fit more into your life."
"No," the leader said. "That’s not the point. The point is this. If we hadn’t put those big stones in first, I would never have gotten them in later on."
Peter describes our Lord Jesus as “Jesus Christ the Nazarene” and also as a “Stone”; and goes on to say to “the rulers of the people and the elders” and to all those who were standing nearby who had crucified Him and rejected Him as their Messiah (‘Messiah’ means a World-Ruler) that He is “the stone despised by you the [ones] building, Whom God raised from the dead”, (Acts 4: 10, Lit. Greek).
Now, the Jewish religious leaders of that time
expected a ruling Messiah, and
not a suffering Messiah. They either disbelieved,
ignored, or were blinded by Satan to divine prophecies which foretold of Messiah’s
suffering; and they rejected Him because He didn’t live up to their
expectations! Even His own chosen disciples doubted His identity and,
for a time, thought of Him as nothing more than a prophet:-
“…concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all
the people: and the chief priests and
our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him:”
(Luke 24: 19, 20). A few days earlier, the people were crying: “Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of
Now it is easier for us today to believe in a suffering Messiah than a ruling Messiah, because He has already suffered, died and rose from the dead - exactly and as literally as Isaiah had said: “Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” … “He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? For the transgression of my people was he stricken. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief…” (Isa. 53: 1-10)
Is this not an accurate account of our suffering Messiah? Is this not an accurate account of what
actually did happen to Jesus when he was mistreated by evil men at the behest
of the religious leaders who were blinded by Satan, and who rejected Him as
their Messiah? And is this not similar to what is happening in our Churches today
amongst the rulers of God’s redeemed people? They believe and speak much about a suffering
Saviour and Lord of all creation; but most of them have little or no time to
talk about a ruling Messiah in
His millennial kingdom,
or about this groaning creation being
Disciples of Jesus need to take care that we do not despise the word of the Holy One of Israel as the leaders of the people did at His first advent. We need to see a ruling Messiah at the time of His second advent: and, most important of all, we need to be prepared to suffer for righteousness sake, in order to be worthy to rule with Him then:. “Woe unto them,” says the prophet Isaiah, “that call evil good; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight:” (Isa. 5: 20, 21). See, Rom. 8: 17; Rev. 20: 4-6; 1 Pet. 4: 12-19; Jas. 1: 12; Heb. 11: 35; 2Tim. 2: 12; 3: 10-12; 2 Thess. 1: 4, 5; 1 Thess. 1: 6; Acts .14: 22.
The “Stone” is preparing to come to this earth again. In that “Day” the same scenes that bore witness to His humiliation will bear witness to His exaltation and glory. The prophet Daniel says: “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him:” (7: 14).
[* My reader might be interested to know that it was through a faithful exposition of the text describing Jesus Christ as “The Stone despised by you the ones building” - Who became the head of the corner; and, says Peter, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (verse 12). This “Stone” must come first. Faith in this “Stone” as one’s personal Saviour, gives eternal salvation to all God’s people. Could anything be simpler or easier understood than this? Therefore, all who have not found eternal salvation through faith in Him are not eternally saved and are not Christians.]
The big stones represent our chief priorities in life, the most important things we believe which affect our behaviour. We all have 'big stones' that are important in our lives. Jesus teaches us that our number one priority in life is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we do this by taking time each day to talk with God and listen to Him: this is a ‘big stone’. If we don’t get that time into our day, then all the little, less important things will crowd God’s space in our lives.
If we allow other people and other things to take up our time, then we will not have it to give to those we care for most of all.
To get the best out of our lives, we have to put the big stones in first. When we do that, we’ll be surprised at how much time is left over for all the other little things.
said, - [to "His disciples,"¹ Matt. 5: 1, 2.] - "Seek first the
What ‘righteousness’ are ‘disciples’ of Christ to seek? Some may say, ‘the imputed righteousness of Christ.’ But how could that be correct, when He says - (later in the same sermon addressed specifically to disciples: “Except your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of the heavens,” verse 20)?
active righteousness, attained by grace and the Holy Spirit’s power in
a regenerate believer’s life, not a ‘big stone’?
Does it not represent a chief priority
in a disciple’s life? Shoult it not be placed in the ‘glass
jar’ next after Christ’s imputed righteousness and “the free gift of eternal life” (Rom. 6: 23)? Assuredly so:- “Even so ye [my disciples] also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that
All the divine prophecies relative to that event, and the Millennial Kingdom which will follow, are the other ‘big stones’ we need to put in their proper place in our lives today; and when we do so, we will be amazed at what our life can become and how, our priorities will begin to change.