I’ve been blessed to be in fellowship with some Christian brothers who’ve taught me a lot about reading Scripture to find Christ, rather than reading Scripture to find rules or church structure. While we can certainly discern how to live and organize our corporate gatherings by reading the Bible, we don’t find eternal life in those things. We find life in Christ alone. I’m learning to read Scripture to discover who Jesus is, who I’m to become, and what God wants to do in me. And somehow—as I’m shaped more and more into the image of Christ—a lot of those other questions are answered as well.
So this morning when I was reading Luke’s version about Jesus sending out the Twelve and afterward feeding the five thousand, I was struck by Jesus’ heart. He sent the Twelve out to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. When they came back, he took them and withdrew to Bethsaida. Word got out and they were overrun by the crowds. So Jesus welcomed the masses, likewise speaking to them about the kingdom of God and healing the sick. When the Twelve told him to send the people away to get something to eat, he told them to feed the people themselves. You know what happens next.
Here’s what hit me: To Jesus, healing the sick and feeding the hungry was an integral part of preaching the kingdom of God. No big surprise there, but I wondered if the apostles were more interested in preaching than in ministering. I wondered why there seemed to be a disconnect between their ability to cure diseases (and drive out demons) and their willingness to feed the people. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they never considered that they could—through Jesus—multiply food. I wondered if after preaching from village to village they were ready for a break and a bit resentful that they didn’t get one.
All those questions, but I really couldn’t find strong evidence in this passage to support my line of thinking.
And then it occurred to me that my questions had revealed the weakness of my own heart. That maybe sometimes I’m more interested in “preaching” than in ministering. That there’s a disconnect between what God has empowered me to do and what I’m willing to do. That sometimes I let my energy level dictate my ministry. Or that I can't even imagine what God wants to do through me. That sometimes I’m ready for a break and a bit resentful when I don’t get one.
I confessed all this to God, and now I’m confessing it to you. I want to have a heart that can’t separate the message from the ministry. A heart that always welcomes the people around me. A heart that isn't too timid to entertain the possibilities of God's redemptive power. I want to have the heart of Jesus.