Interruption. Like realizing that you need to get gas on your way to work or walking your dog and having kids flocking you asking you about him. Interruptions annoy us. We roll our eyes and hope it will be over soon. While we view interruptions as a 21st century thing with our busy lives, they have been around as long as humans have had to interact with other humans. Jesus had his fair share of interruptions, and how he responded to those interruptions not only shaped those around him, but should shape how we react when things don’t go as planned in our own lives.
One of the best examples in Jesus’ ministry happens after the disciples were returning from a time of intense ministry. They were gathering together, talking about it. They had just buried their friend John the Baptist who had just been executed. This was not a time to be working with other people as they were probably tired. They start on their way by boat to a retreat time of sorts to a secluded place. But, by this time in Jesus’ ministry he had gained fame as a teacher so when people see him, they crowd in around Jesus and the disciples. This crowd of thousands starts running to go meet Jesus on the other side of the lake.
Suddenly a retreat had turned into a missions trip.
Jesus begins teaching the crowd. Before they know it, it’s late and everyone is hungry. The disciples, being fiscally responsible as they were, urge Jesus to send the crowd out to go find food. Jesus sees this as an opportunity to minister.
The disciples go out and gather all the food in the crowd. Five loaves of bread and two fish. To feed 5,000 people. That math does not add up. But, Jesus miraculously makes it work. Everyone had enough to eat, and there were baskets leftover.
Jesus took the interruption of a sudden crowd, and made it one of the most talked about miracles in the Bible.
Jesus made this a pattern in his time on earth – reacting to those around him with compassion, no matter the inconvenience. His ministry was inaugurated by helping out a newlywed couple with wine at their reception at the prompting of His mother. He healed the heckler Bartimaeus who everyone else thought should just shut up. He responded to the woman who touched his garment with healing compassion. The times Jesus was publicly questioned by the Pharisees turned into some of His best teaching times.
In life, it isn’t so much what happens to us, as how we respond to it. Jesus understood that the potential for spontaneous ministry is powerful.
The Great Commission for generations has been thought of as a command to “go” – meaning move from where you are. Go be a missionary. Go move to the inner city. Live in an orphanage. While all these things are great and needed, a better translation of the Greek is “as you go.” No matter where you are, there are opportunities for ministry, for helping others in need. In the middle of Jesus’ ministry, actually right before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus sends out his disciples and tells them, go two by two. Sometimes we don’t need to make plans, we just need to see what happens and help the hurting people in the world.
By viewing interruptions as opportunities for spontaneous ministry, who knows what could happen. Maybe the unplanned trip to the gas station allows you to see an opportunity to buy a homeless man food. Maybe that kid asking about your dog has had a bad day and needs a kind word.
As you go today, view the world and all that happens to you beyond your control as opportunities for ministry; an opportunity for helping others.