Over this past year our church has been preaching through the gospel of Luke. As I have been studying, preaching and listening to others preach, I have been struck anew by the ministry of Jesus. As I explore His ministry – the way He engages with people, the way He teaches, His priority of discipleship – I desire my ministry to be reflective of His. Over the last year, here are a few things I have observed about His ministry.
1. Crisis – Jesus isn’t scared of crisis. He regularly enters into it. In Luke 7, Jesus enters a town called Nain. As He passes through the city gate, a funeral procession led by a widow who has just lost her only son is exiting the city. Upon seeing the grief and sorrow, Jesus stops the funeral procession to comfort with the grieving widow.
2. Compassion – Before Jesus stops the funeral procession, Luke writes of Jesus looking at the widow, “His heart went out to her.” Jesus sees her pain and allows Himself to feel and experience what she is feeling and experiencing. And with His heart fully engaged, knowing He has the power to change her situation, He steps into her despair to bring about joy. Jesus walks over to the brier carrying the boy and brings Him back to life. It is said of Jesus throughout all the Gospel accounts, when He sees moments of crisis, He is moved with compassion to the point of action (Matt 9:36, Matt 20:34, Mk 6:34, Mk 8:2).
3. Confrontation – Jesus also isn’t afraid of confrontation. In Luke 6, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. In the audience is a man with a lame hand along with a group of Pharisees looking for a way to accuse Jesus. Knowing their motives, Jesus said to the man with the lame hand to stand up and stretch out his hand. Jesus then asks the gathered crowd a provoking question about Sabbath regulations that might prevent Jesus from healing on the Sabbath. Then Jesus heals the man. This makes the Pharisees furious, to the point of wanting to kill Jesus.
4. Critique – Jesus doesn’t seek confrontation for the sake of confrontation. Rather, in His role as a prophet, confrontation is His way of offering critique. It’s how He brings awareness that God is calling His people to repentance and is doing something new in their midst. But because of their hard hearts, the Pharisees resist Jesus call to change and desire to maintain the status quo. In the example above, Jesus heals the man to show the Pharisees that they were missing the point of the law. They were so focused on the externals of the law, it blocked their ability to engage in crisis and have compassion.
If your anything like me, both crisis and confrontation are things you avoid at all costs. They’re scary, risky and uncomfortable. And as I study the ministry of Jesus, the question comes to mind, what enables Him to readily step into crisis and confrontation?
5. Confidence – The answer is confidence. Not confidence in Himself or His ability, but confidence of who He was in relation to the Father. In Luke 3, just before Jesus steps into His public ministry, He goes to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. As He is coming out of the water the heavens open and the voice of God says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Before Jesus ever accomplishes anything for the Kingdom, He is fully loved and accepted by God.
I believe this is the key to having our life and ministry be reflective of Jesus’ life and ministry. When we are certain and sure of the Father’s love for us we will have the confidence to step into scary and risky situations to be conduits of the Fathers love and compassion.
What are your observations about the ministry of Jesus?