First, the best perspective…
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he
that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Believest thou this? – John 11:25-26
Resurrection weekend was meaningful for me. I was able to spend some time in quiet contemplation. Dee and I watched the old movie classic The Robe. We had an enjoyable visit with good friends. Church on Sunday morning was enriching and uplifting and we enjoyed some quality family time! As I begin to grow older in the Lord, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday have deeper meaning compared with other holy days during the year.
Before the blessedness of the weekend completely fades and while our thoughts remain on the Lord Jesus and all that He has done for us, perhaps we should consider something of His earthly ministry during those brief years recounted in the Gospels.
His ministry was quite visible and well known among the people. He healed the sick. He made the lame to walk. He caused the blind to see. He helped the deaf to hear. He raised dead people back to life. And He cast demons out of wretched people. There were other miracles. He turned water into wine. He showed power over the weather and creation. He fed the multitudes. He walked on water.
This Man Jesus drew crowds – even thousands of men, women, and children. Many would gather and then follow Him from place to place, hungry, eager to receive what He had to offer. Yes, they knew He could perform miracles of healing and even provide them with a meal, but surely they were drawn to Him as much for what He had to say. His words were refreshing, filled with wisdom, showing forth His care and devotion. And all conveyed with warmth, depth, and love.
The crowds – yes the crowds. Gathered in the hot sun, gladly diverted from the mundane chores, the responsibilities and the cares of the day. Oh, it’s probably true that some were following Jesus for wrong reasons, but these were few. Most were there to see and to hear this special One who was so different from the hard way of their religious leaders… the legalistic, rigid, even harsh requirements that could not be remembered, much less followed. These people were looking for something that they could receive into their lives – that which would make a difference. That which was real and relevant.
Jesus, this caring, loving, patient One – who even loved the despised, the downtrodden, the unlovable, and the unclean… It was He who they knew could provide that which they needed so desperately – the nourishment of their soul. Their deepest needs, perhaps that they didn’t even realize themselves! They were there because of the simple, easy-to-understand way of Jesus. They were there to receive the practical way of life that focused more on the love of God and love of others that made such good sense to the ears that were eager to hear, the mind that was eager to absorb, and the heart that was so willing to receive. They followed because they knew that to be in the presence of Jesus could change their lives.
Yes, Jesus often spoke to great crowds of people, taking the time to minister His words of wisdom and grace, but throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus always had time to visit with and minister to the one!
These were often quiet moments when no one else was around. In John chapter 3, we see Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night with questions on his heart. In John chapter 4, there was the woman at
the well – just going about the business of daily chores. Stopping at the well to get her water jar filled she met this man Jesus, about whom she would soon tell others exclaiming, “Come, see a man, which told me all the things that ever I did: is this not the Christ?” Also in John chapter 4, we meet the nobleman whose son “was at
the point of death.” Jesus heals the man’s son. In John chapter 5,
we watch and listen as Jesus meets a man who had been infirm for
38 years. “Wilt thou be made whole?” Jesus asks. Then He said to
this man, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” In John chapter 8, the religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman who was an adulteress.
In His great wisdom, Jesus reproved the leaders, and when they were gone, He focused His attention on the woman saying, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”
Jesus had a wonderful way of focusing His attention on the needs
of an individual and isn’t that usually where truly deep and effective ministry takes place? The kind of ministry that touches a life, filling their greatest need? Yes, there is a place for small group and even large crowd ministry, but most truly in-depth and deeply effective ministry takes place in one-to-one opportunities with people who
are going through difficulties that are much bigger than themselves.
People who have questions about the issues of life, especially when there are no simple solutions. People who have a difficult past that haunts them. People who are going through tough times, whether sickness or other great personal challenges. People who just can’t seem to find a solution to the difficulties that confront them, plague them, chase them. But even today, Jesus Himself provides grace and strength to endure the trial.
And He often does this through divine appointments, perfectly arranged by Him, providing a ministry opportunity for one of His servants. Perhaps it will be you! Always be ready to be an encouragement and a help to someone God quietly sends your way. This is where real and dynamic ministry takes place – ministry that changes hearts and lives – the kind of ministry we see in our Lord Jesus!