Week Of Prayer | Article

Ted N. C. Wilson

President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

​Ministering Like Jesus

Let God do the Capernaum miracle for you.

In the city of Capernaum there was a depressed, dejected, and helpless invalid. He had fallen into despair and had lost all hope of recovery. Full of bitter remorse, he knew his sickness was a result of sin. His was a sad case of physical, mental, social, and spiritual illness. He had hoped that the religious leaders might bring some relief; yet his hopes were dashed as they coldly pronounced him incurable. Helpless and discouraged, he spent day after day suffering in pain and regret.

But then he heard about Jesus. He heard that others, as sinful and helpless as he, had been healed. His friends encouraged him to be carried to Jesus, but his hopes fell when he remembered how sin had caused his disease. What he desired most was relief from the burden of sin. He wanted to see Jesus and receive the assurance of forgiveness. There was no time to lose—his flesh was already decaying. He asked his friends to carry him to Jesus, and they were glad to help (see Mark 2:3). How wonderful to have spiritually minded friends who will help you to see Jesus!

As the little group arrives at Peter’s home, where Jesus is teaching, they face a major challenge: they find the crowd so dense that they can’t even hear the Savior. Many times they try pushing their way through, but to no avail.

Desperate to See Jesus

The paralytic is desperate. How could he be so close to Jesus, and yet so far? He is convinced that Jesus is his only hope for peace and forgiveness. He will do anything to see Jesus. Quickly formulating a daring plan, the man begs his friends to carry him up to the roof.

Mark 2:4 indicates that the friends tore the roof apart. Imagine the confusion inside Peter’s house as dust and debris began falling from the ceiling. The Scripture says: “So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying” (NKJV).1

A bed is coming through the roof to the feet of Jesus! Jesus looks into the pleading eyes of the invalid. He understands the situation perfectly, for it was Christ who had given this person hope. The man waits for the words of forgiveness from Jesus. What faith he and his friends had—faith that went through the roof!

Mark 2:5 records Christ’s precious words: “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (NKJV). The words are music to the invalid’s ears. The burden of despair rolls from his shoulders. He has the peace of forgiveness. “In simple faith he accepted the words of Jesus as the boon of new life. He urged no further request, but lay in blissful silence, too happy for words. The light of heaven irradiated his countenance, and the people looked with awe upon the scene.” 2

Which Is Easier?

The self-centered religious leaders in the room exchange glances at each other, remembering their unsympathetic rejection of this poor invalid. In their hearts they accuse Jesus of blasphemy and think they can use this as a pretext for sentencing Christ to death. Fixing His gaze on them while reading their thoughts, Jesus asks: “ ‘Which is easier to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’ ” (Mark 2:9-11, NKJV).

The man jumps to his feet with the strength of youth. Life-giving blood runs through his veins, and he glows with health. The wonderful love of Jesus! He heals the guilty of their sins and provides new life!

The same power that creates life restored that man instantly. The healing of the body by Christ is evidence of Christ’s power to renew the heart.

Many Seek the Same

Many today are paralyzed with worry, fear, and guilt. They feel discouraged and helpless. They carry heavy burdens and are seeking relief. “Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not,” wrote Ellen White in the wonderful book The Ministry of Healing. “They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace. Many who once knew the power of God’s word have dwelt where there is no recognition of God, and they long for the divine presence.

“The world needs today what it needed nineteen hundred years ago—a revelation of Christ. A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished.

“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’ ” 3

Following His Example

Our Savior was interested in the whole person—physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. He wants us to prosper through our relationship with Him and our service to others in loving, caring ministry—by following His example. Jesus ministered to people where they were—in cities, in towns, along the road, in their homes, by wells, even on the cross—He was not afraid to go wherever there was a soul to be saved. If we are to minister like Jesus, we will do the same.

Jesus went to the people. In order to fulfill our prophetic calling as God’s last-day remnant church, we need to go share the good news where the people are, as Jesus did.

We now live in a world with more than 50 percent of the world’s population residing in cities. Let me make a heartfelt appeal you: Regardless of what line of work you are in, please join your church in the great work of reaching the people who are in the cities of this world. Follow Christ’s example and reach out to those in need where the masses live. Join God’s people around the world in the special emphasis on “Mission to the Cities.”

The book Medical Ministry challenges us with these words: “There is no change in the messages that God has sent in the past. The work in the cities is the essential work for this time. When the cities are worked as God would have them, the result will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed.”4

Brothers and sisters, we are yet to see that “mighty movement.” Let us earnestly study, pray, humble ourselves and seek God’s direction for us as a people, pleading with Him for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, so that we can see this “mighty movement” take place. We want to see Jesus return. This world is wearing out, and I believe with all my heart that Christ’s literal second coming is soon! Let’s follow Christ’s example and go into the cities to reach the people where they are.

A Wholistic and Reinvigorated Ministry

As Seventh-day Adventists we believe in the whole person concept, in ministering to those around us in a comprehensive way. Long before the current promotion of whole person health, God, the Creator of the human race and everything good on this earth, was declaring that He wanted us to be “healthy in every way.” God wants us to be revived and reformed through the Holy Spirit’s power today. He wants us to understand that we are a complex creature made in His image by His hand and breath.

This understanding of the “whole person” leads to a comprehensive approach in reaching people, especially those in the cities. This approach involves the use of centers of influence, local churches, church members, and teams of young people involved in a variety of outreach initiatives, health outreach and medical missionary work, clinics, health lectures, vegetarian restaurants, literature evangelism, small group outreach, door-to-door missionary work, community service and social work that follow Christ’s methods, Adventist Community Services and ADRA activities, integrated media evangelism, counseling centers, Bible studies by members, young people, and Bible workers, child evangelism, personal evangelism and witnessing, public evangelism, and many more methods yet to be initiated by the Holy Spirit. We need pastors, health professionals, and church members working together, as indicated by the Spirit of Prophecy, in a “blended ministry.”

In Ellen White’s manuscript 117, 1901, we read: “Every minister of the gospel should be prepared to do practical medical missionary work. The medical missionary work is to be as closely united with the gospel ministry as the arm is united to the body. The reluctance shown to promulgations of the principles of health reform is caused by an unwillingness to deny self. In our large cities, the medical missionary work must go hand in hand with the gospel ministry. It will open doors for the entrance of truth.”

God is also calling for us to reinvigorate the use of comprehensive health ministry in the large cities of the world. We need denominational organizations and supporting ministries working together in community outreach and soul winning in the large cities and around the world.

As Christ ministered to the people in the cities, He was active in “teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matt. 9:35, NKJV). He taught and modeled being “healthy in every way.” He advocated and proclaimed choosing the full life and then sending people on their way to “tell the world.”

A Great Yearning

Matthew 9:36 explains that when Christ saw the people He had great compassion for them “because they were weary and scattered” (NKJV). The world today is weary and falling apart. There is a great yearning for that which is real and solid, that which will lead to peace and security, that which will unify people as a shepherd does for a flock. Christ is calling you and me today to choose full life in Him, to be healthy in every way through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that we might be shepherds to those who are scattered.

God is calling us to be part of His great, united, and blended team of dedicated followers to show compassion on those who are weary and scattered, those broken in body and spirit. The need is great, and there are not enough helpers. Christ proclaimed in Matthew 9:37, 38 that the potential for harvesting was there, but the dedicated missionaries were few and that we should pray for the Lord to send laborers into the harvest.

Are you willing, like the friends of the paralytic, to persevere in the work of bringing others to Christ? Are you committed to pushing ahead regardless of what may happen? Are you willing to accept Christ’s call to be healthy in every way? How persistent are you? Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to bring revival and reformation into your life so that you will be ready to minister like Jesus?

Christ is coming soon! I invite you just now, at the beginning of this Week of Prayer focusing on “Christ’s Methods Alone,” to dedicate yourself fully to Him and to be willing to go wherever He calls, and to do whatever He asks you to do, to reach others for Him.

  1. Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
  2. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 268.
  3. Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.
  4. Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1932), p. 304.
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