The sermon was about Jesus’ ministry and pointed out that most of the time, the Bible does not report Jesus’ planned and formal teachings, but rather talks about the interruptions that came as Jesus was traveling or preaching.
Jesus was so often interrupted, even his interruptions were interrupted.
My pastor encouraged me to see the interruptions that came into my life, into my week, into my every day not as interruptions, but as the ministry itself. This changed my life and my life’s work. If we did not include the interruptions as a part of Jesus’ ministry, what would we have left?
Jesus was interrupted when he was teaching inside of a house – suddenly, the ceiling was falling in and four men lowered their friend into Jesus’ lecture. We don’t know what Jesus was teaching about that day, but we do know the good news of forgiveness and healing that he spoke into the life of the lame man.
Jesus was interrupted when he sought solitude or needed to grieve. He wanted to be alone when he found out about John the Baptist’s beheading. He would try to slip away from a crowd in a boat and when he would come ashore, there they would be, waiting for him. These were not small gatherings; thousands of people were interrupting Jesus, hungry not only for his words but also for food. Jesus allowed the interruption to be the model of holistic ministry.
Jesus was interrupted as he traveled from place to place. Blind Bartimaeus found Jesus on the road to Jericho and Jesus worked one of the miracles that increasingly distinguished his ministry and showed people that God’s ear turns towards the poor and needy, not away from them. Jesus was interrupted even when he slept. He was in the boat with the disciples, trying to get some much needed rest and they interrupted that sleep because they were afraid. The storm whipped up around them and they feared that all of them were going to die. Jesus teaches them about fear and faith, and puts everything in perspective when Jesus not only calms the disciples, but also interrupts the very eye of the storm to show them the hand of God, in which they can put all their fears. Jesus was interrupted when he was eating. He was dining with the Pharisees, at a wealthy home, with all the right people – and then a woman, a prostitute, barges through the door and past the gatekeepers to get to Jesus. He knows what she needs and tells her that her sins are forgiven. Jesus welcomed those not invited and used the interruption to demonstrate how big God’s embrace is.
Jesus was so often interrupted, even his interruptions were interrupted. Once Jesus got out of a boat and was interrupted by a crowd, but a rich man named Jairus, who had the clout to get through the crowd and in front of Jesus, asked Jesus to come with him to heal his daughter. Jesus agrees to this detour and begins to go with Jairus, but as the crowd began to move, Jesus notices that someone touched him with great need and even greater faith. Jesus asks who touched him and we find out that it was the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. This is a woman who likely had been ostracized for most of those years. Jesus knows her faith and he heals her. The interruption of the interruption solidifies God’s care for each and every one of His beloved children, regardless of station and position in society.
Jesus himself was an interrupter. As Jesus traveled on towards the ailing daughter, he arrived, later than some had hoped, due to the interruptions along the way. When Jesus finally arrives, he is told that he is too late, that the girl has already passed away. Jesus goes to her and in God’s all-encompassing power, he interrupts death. Jesus’ love is not bound by time or even by death. Interruptions do not deter God nor stand in the way of His good work. Interruptions magnify God’s pursuing love of us; they amplify the message of forgiveness and wholeness that He desires for us.
World Renew is engaged in a ministry of interruptions – the conflicts, the droughts, the floods, the storms, the winds, the hungers, the unjust systems – they are all interruptions to life as we would want it to be. In one of his letters, C.S. Lewis wrote:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
In other words, embrace the interruptions: they are the very ministry into which we are called. See the people in front of you not as your interruptions, but as your ministry.
PHOTO TOP: Mrs Crain, a 91 year old survivor of the Louisiana flood of 2016, with two World Renew Disaster Response Services volunteers PHOTO CREDIT: Theo Bremer-Bennett