Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Surveying the neglected, unsettled crowd cut Jesus to the core. Do you react with similar compassion when you encounter God’s people, those who struggle, flock to the latest spiritual trend or guru, and have more questions than answers? Do you actively engage with these individuals, or is the prospect too exhausting for you?
Jesus didn’t “check in” with the Apostles and ask if they’d be up to the challenge before he commanded them to act. He identified an urgent need for ministry to people who were unmoored and spiritually wounded. Today, people are disoriented by politics, unsettled by demonstrations, and paralyzed with fear during this pandemic. They are depressed, angry, disgusted, and bewildered. They are searching for truth.
Are we leading people to the consolation we find in the person of Jesus Christ? Do we remind them of the words he spoke in Matthew 11, inviting us to lay down our burdens at his feet and find true rest in submitting to him? The agitated, the worried, the confused are all around us—do we offer words that are a soothing balm and supportive bolster?
Jesus commissions us to be missionary disciples and assures us that he will empower us to work miracles if we commit to do this essential work. Today, offer an exhausted stranger a smile and a kind word. Call a friend and ask, “How are you really doing?” Spend time with a lonely elderly relative. Actively listen to your children when you ask about school. Implore the Holy Spirit to strengthen you for these tasks, enabling you to see individuals as Jesus sees them and moving you to act with the compassion of Christ.
Meditation: How did it feel to reach out to someone intentionally today? How does a missionary disciple love?
You may download the complete Advent devotional Good Tidings HERE as a PDF