Jesus our example
The Gospels, rich as they are with insight and inspiration, offer many perspectives through which we observe Jesus at work. Through the pens of the four writing evangelists, we see Him before a range of audiences – before multitudes, small groups and individuals. His life – actions, words, demeanour – reveal at an intimate and accessible level the one, true God who for some must have long seemed remote and distant.
Mark writes of Jesus’ encounter with a leper (ch. 1:40). Lepers were outcast and their contact with others proscribed, forcing them into a life in which their only contact was with those who shared their affliction. One leper saw in Jesus what he had never seen before and was moved to break the rules of social contact and come near to Jesus. He came so close as to be able to speak with Him – again, a breach of the rules. ‘If You are willing’, he said, ‘You can make me clean’.
Jesus’ response reveals God’s attitude to damaged humanity, wherever it is found and whatever the damage looks like. His response was not to flee or to recoil from one of those to whom the society of the day could offer no hope. He dignified the leper’s appeal with words that may have been the most comforting he had heard. Jesus revealed His willingness to speak to an outcast and, simultaneously, to heal his condition. But Jesus went further; He touched him (v 41). The law did not even allow conversation but Jesus’ desire to bring wholeness extended to a touch which brought instant healing. Mark’s insight concludes with the man telling everybody he met about his encounter with Jesus, with the result that such large crowds gathered He couldn’t enter the cities.
Jesus is always the ultimate example of leadership and leaders can do no better than learn from His example. Leaders know that ‘ministry visible’ is underpinned by ‘ministry invisible’. Leadership and ministry, like Christianity itself, are not spectator sports existing only before a crowd. Following Jesus successfully is built on consistent Christlikeness, often called upon at inconvenient moments and in pressurised environments where emerging or evident hurt requires a response that is beyond the normal or the usual.
The multitudes came as a result of Jesus’ willingness to touch an ‘untouchable’.
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