Friday, August 22, 2014

Ministering to people as Jesus did

Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

New Testament scholar Merrill Tenney wrote the following statement about The Gospel of Luke's presentation of Jesus Christ: "The material of Luke is organized around the central concept of Jesus as a member of humanity who lived a perfect and representative life of the Son of Man through the Holy Spirit." Jesus' ministry to people during His days on this earth is most clearly presented in the Gospel of Luke. This central idea of His ministry to people is extended by the Holy Spirit both spiritually and logically through His church. In John 17:22 Jesus prayed: "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one." We then see this statement in 1 Corinthians 12:27 "Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it." The Apostle John writes in 1 John 2:6 "the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." Perhaps the most remarkable statement is found in 1 John 4:17 "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world."

Therefore what we are looking at in today's post has as much to do with the Christian's ministry to people as it does Jesus' ministry, because by extension through the Holy Spirit's agency, disciples of Jesus are ministering as Jesus' hands and feet to people. We want to explore what it means to minister to people as Jesus did.

Point of application: As we consider specifically the Gospel of Luke, we want to see how Jesus ministered to people, and what we in turn can learn and apply in our own contacts with people. Our point of application for today will be: Ministering like Jesus Christ is the only way to effectively minister to people. In scanning the Gospel of Luke, we find at least three details that highlight how Jesus ministered to people:

Personal Conversations.
Jesus is found talking to all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways through out the Gospel of Luke. Only Luke records a young Jesus holding a conversation with the teachers of the Law in the temple in Luke 2:46-47. Jesus called his disciples personally in Luke 5:1-11 and engaged a tax collector named Matthew in Luke 5:27-32, who would become his disciple and author of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus did not restrict himself to certain classes or groups. He dealt with: 
1. lepers (Lk 5:12-16)
2. paralytics (Lk 5:17-26)
3. a centurion (Lk 7:1-10)
4. widows (Lk 7:11-17)
5. sinful women (Lk 7:36-50)
6. mothers (Lk 8:19-21)
7. children (Lk 8:40-56)
8. large crowds (Lk 9:10-17)
9. individuals (Lk 9:18-21)
10. angry people (Lk 9:51-56)
11. Godly women (Lk 10:38-42)
12. rejected people like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9)
13. religious hypocrites (Lk 20:34-38)
14. traitors (Lk 22:47-49)
15. politicians (Lk 23:1-7)
16. a dying criminal (Lk 23:43) 
17. His followers (Lk 24:46-49)

Nearly twenty different kinds of conversations with all kinds of people are recorded in Luke. Jesus ministered by way of conversations.  As believers, our daily interactions with people gives occasion for us to communicate Jesus' love and presence. As we have noted already: Ministering like Jesus Christ is the only way to effectively minister to people. But notice also how Jesus ministered to people, not only by way of personal conversations, but also...

Parables about people.
In scanning through Luke's Gospel, one can count at least 28 parables. Of those 28 parables told by Jesus, at least 19 of them are about people. Jesus' parables about people dealt with such characters as:
1. good Samaritans (Lk 10:30-37)
2. rich fools (Lk 12:16-21)
3. faithful servants (Lk 12:35-40)
4. Kings (Lk 14:25-33)
5. Rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)
note: I take this to be a true account told in a parabolic fashion
6. an unworthy slave (Lk 17:7-10)
7. prayerful widow (Lk 18:1-8)
8. Pharisee and tax collector (Lk 18:9-14)

More could be mentioned, however the sample just given illustrates how much Jesus not only talked to people, but thought about people. We to need to be about the business of thinking about and praying for people, just as Jesus did. So in ministering like Jesus, we can see He engaged in personal conversations and told parables about people, but notice lastly....

Purpose of His mission. Luke 19:10
Luke 19:10 states - "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke spells out in his main verse of his Gospel the purpose for why Jesus came: to save lost people. In the preceeding context of Luke 19:1-9, we can see the three-fold outline of Luke 19:10 applied to Jesus' engagement with Zacchaeus:

The Son of man came...Luke 19:1-5

To seek........Luke 19:6-8

and to save that which was lost Luke 19:9

Why we as Christians are here on this earth? We are to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth until Jesus comes. (Mt 24:14; 28:18-20) We are His royal ambassadors to a lost and dying world. (2 Corinthians 5:15-21) As author and pastor John Piper has often said: missions exists because worship doesn't. 

Closing thoughts:
Today's post featured a flyover of Luke's Gospel with the intent to understand how Jesus ministered to people. Our main point of application was: Ministering like Jesus Christ is the only way to effectively minister to people. We saw this specifically in three ways: Jesus' personal conversations, parables and purpose for His mission. We discovered that as we engage with people in daily conversations, share stories and remember our main purpose for being here, we too can by the power of the Holy Spirit minister to people like Jesus did.