Summary: Doing minstry Jesus’ Way.
“Motives and Means of Ministry”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
As we look at our Scripture passage for this morning, one thing which is apparent is that ministry is not necessarily convenient.
It’s not neat and tidy and wrapped up in a little box.
It’s not something we can put away for a rainy day.
It is before us all the time!
Earlier on in Chapter 6 Jesus had sent out the twelve disciples--two by two in order to preach and heal people.
Apparently their mission was a success, and so when they returned to Jesus they “gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.”
No doubt they were excited, but they were also tired and hungry.
They had gone on their mission trip…
…now it was time to rest, relax and do something for themselves…
…and there is nothing wrong with this.
It is good and healthy actually…
…but that just wasn’t what they had in store for them that day.
They headed with Jesus to a solitary place, but…
…a large crowd “ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.”
And, “When Jesus landed, he had compassion on [these people] because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
Talk about an inconvenient situation!
The disciples were tired and hungry.
They had already taken on their fair share of the world‘s pain.
It was time to relax and leave the cares of the world behind.
So the disciples came to Jesus and tried to talk Jesus into shooing the people away!
But Jesus would do nothing of the kind.
The word used here for compassion can also be translated to read that Jesus “was moved to the depths of his being with pity for them”…even though they were invading His space!!!
How would you react if you were disturbed in this way?
How would I react?
Many of us would be intensely annoyed to say the least!
We may feel only resentment…but compassion? Pity?…
…I don’t know.
It’s hard to see Jesus’ response to this crowd without asking ourselves some soul-searching questions.
Which comes most naturally for us?:
Irritation or compassion?
It is so easy to lose our patience with people who get in our way and block our plans.
Just look how easily we can become angry at a driver who is going too fast or too slow.
Or what about when the phone rings while you are at the dinner table or watching your favorite tv show?
Are we able, with Jesus, to empathize with others…no matter who they are or what they look like…
…no matter what hour of the day or night they come needing our help?
It’s so easy to just want to do ministry on our own terms…
…during our free time…
…when we have nothing else on the calendar…
But this is not the way God operates.
Jesus had compassion on the folks who interrupted his lunch plans!
He looked upon them as a people who were like sheep without a shepherd.
What exactly does that mean?
A sheep without a shepherd cannot find its way.
Life can be so bewildering.
There are so many different voices beckoning…
…come this way; go here; stop there, try this, take that.
Just think of the multitude of people surrounding this church…surrounding our homes…
…who stand at a crossroad and do not know which way to go!
What a desperate and dangerous place that is to be.
So many take the wrong road…
…and once you begin to go down the wrong road, it can be difficult--if not impossible--to turn around…
…to stop the train and get off!!!
The people in the crowd needed direction.
They were desperate for help!
They were in trouble.
Jesus was motivated by compassion.
What motivates you and I?
Why do we do ministry?
Is it because we really, really care?
Is it because we are moved to the depths of our being when we see someone who is lost, hungry, down and out, beaten up by the world--and we can’t help but do our best to help them out?
A sheep without a shepherd has nothing to defend it when danger looms.
A sheep can’t defend itself against robbers nor from wild animals.
If life has taught us one thing, it must be that we cannot defend ourselves alone!
Who among us has a sure defense--on our own--against the temptations which come our way, and attack us from every angle?
Only through a daily walk with Jesus Christ can we walk in this world and through this life without being eaten up by sin, desperation and despair!!!
Without Christ, we all stand utterly defenseless!!!