It would seem that something so simple as ministry would be easy to understand.
Really, ministry isn’t simple at all. It has many expressions, some of them obvious and some of them hidden. Jesus came to minister, to be sure, but He also came to receive ministry.
A Question from a Lawyer
In light of the amazing, multiplied success of the 70 disciples sent out to minister at the command of Jesus and in His name, a lawyer brought a question to Jesus.
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus entertained his question, answering him with another question.
“What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
It was an exercise in the familiar. Everyone knew the answer. It was part of the morning prayer of every faithful Jew, the Shema: “Love God and love your neighbor.”
Jesus gave him an “A,” adding,
“…do this and you will live.”
The lawyer wouldn’t leave it there, and probably with a smirk, asked who his neighbor might be. Instead of answering directly, Jesus told a story, one of His best-known stories.
The Good Samaritan
Jesus invented the tale of a traveler who fell victim to robbers on a public highway. Bleeding on the side of the road, he was ignored by a priest and then by a Levite. The poor man was near to death when a Samaritan stopped to minister to him, dressing his wounds, providing new clothes, and even taking him to an inn for recovery. The Samaritan covered all the expenses and even left provision for the days to come. Then Jesus sprang the question: which one was the true neighbor? The answer was obvious. Before the lawyer could revise and extend his remarks, Jesus told him to live that kind of life.
“Go and do likewise.”
Mary and Martha
Near Jerusalem is the town of Bethany, the home of sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. This family regularly ministered to the needs of Jesus and His men. Dr. Luke tells of the beginning of this relationship. Martha welcomed Jesus into their home. She immediately set to work preparing a meal for this large group of hungry men. Hospitality was her gift but this assignment was beyond her normal responsibilities. Her sister, Mary, chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and take in His every word.
Both Mary and Martha loved Jesus but in different ways. Both of them ministered to Jesus but in different ways. There was so much to do, Martha needed her sister’s help. When it was not forthcoming, she complained to Jesus and asked Him to command Mary to get up and get to the kitchen. Jesus’ answer to Martha’s complaint has mystified readers for centuries. He gently rebuked Martha and greatly commended Mary. In this answer, Jesus elevated worship above works. Yes, there was a dinner to prepare, but it could never be as nourishing as time spent with Jesus.
Worship before Works
May we never forget that time spent in the presence of Jesus is never time wasted. Yes, we must serve the Lord by ministering to the needs of others as the Good Samaritan did in the story. We must also learn to minister to the Lord with our praise and adoration. He does not need our worship but He certainly deserves it. It is also the key to our ministry to others for with His touch, we can really touch others in His name. We must, “Go and do likewise.”
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Lord Jesus, I want to walk this earth in Your compassion. May I never pass a hurting soul by when You have called me to be his neighbor. I want to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. May I learn to sit at Your feet, like Mary of Bethany so that my time in life’s kitchen, like Martha of Bethany, will count the most to ease the pain in this world. I want to minister to You and to minister to others in Your holy Name. Amen.
We Are Called
Words and Music: Steve Fry
1. We are called to be a royal priesthood That will minister to God
Declare the wisdom of His ways Exalt His character in praise
We are called to yield unto the Spirit That He may form in us
The beauty of the life of Jesus
We’re called to bear His presence And manifest His glory
Called to feel His heart And know authority
And give to Him undying devotion Our full adoration
That He may be pleased To set our hearts
On this one endeavor To worship forever His majesty
2. We are called to keep the Father’s word And meditate upon
The loveliness of Jesus Christ And offer praise our sacrifice
Our worship is responding To the revelations of His name
Bringing pleasure unto Him Whose heart is broken over sin
We’re called to yield our minds Our body soul and spirit
Worship Him the way He wants to hear it
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.