Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 was bound from New York City to Miami on December 29, 1972. It was filled with holiday travelers. As the aircraft approached the Miami Airport for its landing, a light that indicates proper deployment of the landing gear failed to come on. The plane flew in a large, looping circle over the swamps of the Everglades while the cockpit crew checked out the light failure. Their question was this, had the landing gear actually not deployed or was it just the light bulb that was defective?
The flight engineer fiddled with the bulb. He tried to remove it, but it wouldn’t budge. Another member of the crew tried to help out… and then another. By and by, if you can believe it, all eyes were on the little light bulb that refused to be dislodged from its socket. No one noticed that the autopilot had been inadvertently disengaged and the plane was losing altitude. Finally, it dropped right into a swamp. 102 people were killed in that plane crash.
While an experienced crew of high-priced and seasoned pilots messed around with a seventy-five-cent light bulb, an entire airplane and many of its passengers were lost. The crew momentarily forgot the most basic of all rules of the air—“Don’t forget to fly the airplane!”
People can get caught up in the busyness of the day—running from the house to the doctor to work to school to soccer practice to music lessons to church to committee meetings to . . . You can do so much and yet accomplish so little.
Churches can have so many activities, programs, projects, committee meetings, banquets, and community involvements—so many wheels spinning without really accomplishing anything of eternal significance—that the congregation forgets its primary objective.
We can learn a lot about someone by following them during a typical day. We can learn even more by watching an individual during a busy and stressful day. Mark 1:21-39 presents a single day in the life of Jesus. Amidst the pressure of hurting people, growing popularity, and the expectations of his followers, Jesus was in charge of his schedule and priorities. He made time for what was most important. On the busiest day of his life, Jesus maintained three priorities: people (29-34), prayer (35), and preaching (36-39).
Following the worship service in the synagogue (21-28), Jesus and his four disciples went to the home of Peter and Andrew. The Jewish custom was that the main meal came after Sabbath worship at about noon. Since Simon’s home was apparently close to the synagogue it was the natural place to go for lunch.
Upon arriving, Jesus learns that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. He compassionately goes to her, touches her and heals her completely, without saying a word. The fever leaves her. She immediately gets out of bed, showing no lingering weakness, and serves the party.
Between Jesus delivering a man from a demon in the synagogue and healing Simon’s mother-in-law, the excitement is now building. That evening at sundown it seems as if the entire town is camped at the front door. Everyone in Capernaum knew Jesus was in town and wanted something from him. In a compassionate response, Jesus heals many and casts out many demons.
Despite a full day of ministry, Jesus got up early the next day and went to a solitary place to pray (35). Jesus cannot extend himself outward in compassion without first attending to the source of his mission and purpose with the Father; and, conversely, his oneness with the Father compels him outward in mission.
The crowds return to Simon’s door expecting to find Jesus. Simon and company go looking for Jesus (36-37). Their statement, “Everyone is looking for you” may indicate some annoyance with Jesus on their part. They thought Jesus was not taking advantage of his opportunities. They wanted him to do more miracles and increase his popularity.
The phrase, “looking for you,” means to seek with evil or inappropriate intention. Mark apparently understood that the motives of the crowd were not good. The people of Capernaum apparently had no interest in Jesus beyond his miracles. They were not willing to come under his authority in the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ reply indicates that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ plan and mission. His plan was to go elsewhere to preach (39). His plan was to proclaim the good news, not become the resident miracle worker. He would not let popular acclaim change his priorities.
Following the example of Jesus, we can learn much about how to maintain our priorities in the midst of daily life. Amidst the pressure of life’s busyness, we should make time to Serve the needs of others, Spend time with God, and Share the gospel.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 26, 2014. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.