by Gene A. Getz
He not only healed the sick physically and psychologically, but He provided food for them as well.
Our Human and Divine Example
God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible states that Jesus was tempted in every way, and yet He was without sin. In that short space of time, He identified with every temptation any one of us has faced or will face (1 Cor. 10:13).This is difficult to understand, but the Bible teaches that He was indeed fully human even though He was fully God.
Those were indeed incredible and amazing years. In some miraculous but real and authentic way, Jesus identifies with each of us, not just in our temptations, but in all aspects of our lives. How He lived in relationship to others is a model for us. Remember too that even though He was a man’s man, He also identifies with every woman. This too is part of the mystery of the incarnation.
Ministering to the Whole Person
As a senior adult, I’ve been challenged by three very practical principles that come from His experience in feeding the 5,000 men, plus women and children. In Matthew’s record, Jesus exemplified the importance of meeting the needs of the whole person — body, soul, and spirit. When the crowds approached Jesus, the disciples wanted to send them away. However, the Savior “felt compassion for them” (Matt. 14:14). He not only healed the sick physically and psychologically, but He provided food for them as well.
Having lived many years, we can follow Christ’s example in our ministry to others, perhaps as younger people cannot. We have a unique and experiential capability to identify with the needs of the whole person. We’ve been there.
Mark’s recording of the same event has given us a different perspective. There are times we must meet needs even when they interrupt our schedules.
Prior to working this miracle, Jesus said to the disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). They were so busy in ministry that they “did not even have time to eat” (6:31). However, when they arrived in what was to be a private place, people were anxiously waiting for them. Jesus was tired, but He allowed these needy people to interrupt His own schedule as He met their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.
Today God is asking us to follow His example. Though we all need times to recuperate, there are also times when we must forgo our own needs in order to minister to others — body and spirit.
Meeting Personal Needs
In the fourth Gospel, John focused on Jesus’ concern for individuals. Philip, one of the 12 disciples, did not fully understand how Jesus could be “equal with God” the Father (John 5:18). Jesus understood Philip’s doubts and took this opportunity to help him take a step forward in his personal faith. He singled Philip out and tested him by asking, “Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” (6:5).
Philip failed the test. At that moment, he didn’t believe in Jesus’ ability to multiply the bread and fish (John 6:7). In this sense, as Jesus performed this miracle to meet the physical needs of thousands, He was also thinking of the needs of one individual.
The lesson for us is clear. Those of us who are older have many opportunities to minister to individuals. The important questions are, do we look for these opportunities and do we take the time as Jesus did with Philip?
Blending Ministry with Reality
As mature adults, we are in a unique place in life to practice these principles. Many of us have more wisdom. Some of us have more resources. Others have more time to share our talents and treasures.
On the other hand, we have to be realistic. Though we are to imitate Jesus’ example in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 11:1), we are still human.
For Reflection and Response
How can I keep these principles in balance — meeting the needs of others while also taking time to meet my own needs and the needs of my family?
Gene A. Getz is a pastor, teacher, radio broadcaster, and author of more than 60 books. He and his wife, Elaine, live in Plano, Texas.
This article originally appeared in the April, 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe