Luke 9:1-2 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
When Jesus sent out his disciples, he empowered them to proclaim the Kingdom of God, but it was also accompanied with authority to drive out demons and heal people from disease. The ministry of Jesus was to minister to the complete person. A holistic approach was the foundation of how to minister to people so, it is no surprise that he sends out the disciples to do the same.
In the same chapter Dr. Luke recounts the miracle of feeding 5,000+ people with five loaves and two fish. The disciples had not yet learned that at the heart of holistic ministry is compassion. They preferred to send the people away. The circumstances were too difficult. Jesus on the other hand is moved with compassion and performs another miracle.
It is important to realize that the people who heard the gospel and who were healed, and fed were not all saved and sanctified saints; they were not followers of Jesus, not fully committed disciples who were ready to embrace Jesus. Yet when Jesus saw their hurts and needs, he responded with love. Jesus knew that many of them would abandon and even turn against him later. Even so, Jesus was moved with compassion, seeing their need. In the same way, he has compassion today when he sees the hurts and needs of anyone created in the image of God.
We have daily opportunities to come alongside the people around us. It could mean dropping by the hospital or the nursing home for a visit. Perhaps it involves cooking a meal for someone. Maybe it includes simply listening to another person’s story. When we realize that we too have been empowered by Jesus to do ministry, remember that at the heart of holistic ministry is compassion.
God, help us to see the needs of others not as interruptions, but as opportunities to reflect the love and compassion of Christ for people who need it. In his Jesus, Amen.