In what ways did Jesus’ disciples manage their time differently before and after His resurrection? How do those ways compare to the ways we manage our time today?
In Genesis 1:17-19, God established time as we know it. “God set them [the two great lights] in the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.”
In the United States, time has become one of our most valuable assets, even more so than in other cultures of the world where people are less constrained by time. “Time is money,” “you’re wasting my time,” and “time of the essence” are mantras commonly expressed inside and outside of U.S. workplaces. People value their time, yet sometimes they use their time ineffectively.
We’ve probably all heard people lament their lack of time for family, friends, work, school, or other activities. Yet when we account for the ways people spend their time, we often see time spent in mindless activities, such as in front of a television or in bed, sleeping excessively. Alternatively, we may be working so hard “in the office” that we’re neglecting those we love. We shouldn’t merely work hard: we need to work smart. And we should involve those we love in our mission.
Though we’re taught to “number our days” to focus on the value of each minute of each day, we usually don’t live each day as if it’s our last – unless it is one of our last.
Country singer Tim McGraw’s song, “Live like you were dying,” highlights the value we place on life when we find out our days are numbered.
“Looking at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time”
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
And he said
‘Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying'”
Once we find our days are numbered, we suddenly try to redeem ourselves to make up for time lost. Some may begin to seek fulfillment, to do nothing without meaning, and to spend times with those most important in their lives. We may strive to (finally) work on fulfilling our spiritual gifts, which we had ignored for so many years. No one wants to lie on his or her deathbed in front of the ghosts of regret, the ghosts of unfulfilled potential.
During Jesus’ three-year ministry, His apostles seemed to be unaware that His time was about to be cut off, even though He warned them of His impending death and resurrection (e.g., Mark 10:32-34). In the Garden of Gethsemane, three of His most elevated apostles, Peter, James, and John, couldn’t keep from falling asleep three times while Jesus prayed. (Mark 14:33-42).
After Jesus was arrested by the high priests, Peter denied Him three times, due to his fear of facing Jesus’ bloody fate. He and Jesus’ other apostles went into hiding. Only John and the women were reported to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. Only the women were reported to have appeared on the third day at Jesus’ burial site to tend to His deceased body with prepared spices and perfumes.
Yet after Jesus resurrected and appeared to His apostles, a marked change occurred. Peter became the rock whom Jesus had ordained and upon whom Jesus’ church would be built. James, Jesus’ ½ brother, stopped doubting His divinity and became a chief priest in the Jerusalem Temple. Paul, who once persecuted Christians, became arguably one of Jesus’ most ardent followers who traveled throughout the Roman Empire. He wrote the majority of books in the New Testament while constantly on the move. Jesus’ other apostles no longer slept on the job or doubted our Lord. Instead, they valued each minute of each day, living as if each were the last.
Men weren’t the only ones among Jesus’ faithful followers and leaders. Women worked hard for the Kingdom too. Aside from Mary Magdalene and her companions at Jesus’ empty tomb, other women played important roles. Priscilla, Junia, Phoebe, and Lydia are examples. Suetonius reported that Priscilla and her husband Aquila were among the Jews expelled from Rome around 49 A.D. from Claudius, the Roman Emperor. They supported Paul’s efforts and risked their lives for him (Romans 16:3,4). Phoebe was a church deacon who was entrusted by Paul to deliver his letter to the Romans (Romans 16:1-2). Lydia was a faithful follower of God who housed Paul, Silas and his companions (Acts 16). Junia was in prison with Paul and he revered her as “outstanding among the apostles.” (Acts 16:7).
Jesus’ early disciples worked hard, capitalizing on their spiritual gifts. Jesus had positioned each in ways to maximize his or her gifts. Paul, who was highly educated and a great orator and debater, often spent his time during the week making tents to support himself, while spending his free time in temples debating with Jews and Gentiles who had yet to convert. Peter and Jesus’ other apostles also traveled throughout the Roman Empire and into India to share the Good News of Jesus in their own ways. James, Jesus’ ½ brother, who knew Jesus better than all of the aforementioned, worked in the hotbed of anti-Christian activity as the high priest in Jerusalem. The Jewish historian Josephus, who also lived in Jerusalem, reported that James (“the brother of Jesus, the Christ”) was martyred for his efforts during Josephus’ lifetime.
Jesus’ unlikely crew of fishermen, a tentmaker, a tax collector and other people of humble means were suddenly elevated into important positions within the unseen assembly of the Kingdom. They probably didn’t realize their own capabilities while traveling with Jesus during His ministry, but after His resurrection, they were empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit. Through their prayers, fasting, and faithfulness they grew stronger. They were thankful when beaten, jovial in the prison, and brave as they endured gory deaths. Nothing in this life could break their spirits and THE Holy Spirit, who was working through them.
God has placed everyone on this earth here for a purpose – and each person has a gift to do something impactful to make a positive difference in this world. We should follow the example of Jesus’ early disciples by using our gifts to work for the Kingdom and by calling on God for help.
What steps can you take? P-R-A-Y.
P: Praise the Lord and thank Him daily for everything you love in your life.
R: Repent. Reflect on everything that’s been holding you back from being the best you can be – and repent for your sins.
A: Ask God for insight into your spiritual gifts and help in fulfilling them.
Y: Yield to His plan for your life.
How can we identify God’s spiritual gifts to us? Our gifts are displayed in the activities we’re most passionate about, which help to advance our spirits and nourish our souls. No matter our walk in life, we’re all blessed with tools to lead within the Kingdom of God. “The Kingdom of God is within.” (Luke 17:21)
“There are two kinds of people in life: those who make things happen and those who don’t know what happened.” -George Bernard Shaw
Thank you for YOUR time!