Wednesday, February 25, 2015

THE LIFE OF AN EVANGELIST

When I think of the word Evangelist, the first image that comes to mind is Billy Graham. His contribution to The Kingdom has been monumental. Billy Graham had the answer - a choice for Jesus as personal Savior and a continued lifestyle like Jesus Christ. His influence has led others to countless decisions for Christ. No doubt his reward in Heaven will be awesome! 

Another Evangelist I think of is Christ Jesus. People before the time of Jesus and in the time of Christ were primed for The Messiah with all kinds of conditions besides our fallen nature - sicknesses, diseases, demon-possession, fever, and other ailments. The Lord had Himself to spread as the answer and He did with great compassion and supernatural energy.

There are a couple of Book-End Scripture passages that summarize the life and times of Jesus. The first Book-End is Matthew 4:23-25. The second Book-End is Matthew 9:35-38. These Book-Ends generally speak to the ministries of Christ's teachings, proclamations, and healings He did while among great crowds of people.

  • Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)
  • Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
It is within these two passages that I would like to magnify some of the daily consequences of living the evangelical life, at least for Christ.

The Sermon on The Mount, with the Be-Attitudes and more, spans from Matthew 5 through Matthew 7. After Jesus delivers this lengthy teaching and comes down the mountain, the crowds follow Him. I can almost feel their desperation tangibly as The Lord arrives at the foot of the mountain. Immediately a leper approaches Him for healing. Jesus heals the leper and continues on (Matthew 8:1-2).

As soon as Jesus enters Capernaum, He is approached by a Centurion. He stops, hears the plea, and grants his request (Matt. 8:5-13). Then when Jesus finally comes to His destination, Peter's house, He finds Peter's mother-n-law "with fever". He heals her and not long after that people find out where Jesus is staying and bring a demon-possessed man and many more who were sick to Him. He healed them all (Matt. 8:14-17).

However, the crowds must have gotten large enough to warrant a get-away with His Disciples on the lake. But even on the lake Jesus showed His power and taught them a lesson of trust (Matthew 8:18, 23-27).

Docking on the other side of the lake, Jesus cannot escape the needs of this area. Two demonic men from the tombs in that region came out to greet Christ because they knew who Jesus was (God incarnate) and they knew their future (doomed to lake of fire). The perplexing thing is after Jesus released the men from their demonic captors, all the town folk came out to Him and asked Him to leave the region. So He did (Matthew 8:28-34).

So, Jesus travels on. Back across the lake He goes to His own town where a paralytic is brought to Him for healing. He heals him (Matthew 9:1-8)

Jesus then calls Matthew as His Disciple and dines with him and other tax collectors at Matthew's house. Here, Jesus even has to explain the dinner mates/partners He selects (Matt. 9:9-13).

Next, in Matthew 9:14-17, Jesus is teaching about fasting. The 18th verse says, "while He was saying this", in other words...while Jesus was finishing explaining fasting, a ruler with a dead daughter came seeking help from Jesus. Christ went and resurrected the girl (Matt. 9:18-26).

"As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him,..." Jesus healed them. Immediately after that another demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus and Christ healed him also (Matt. 9:27-33).

I don't think we really know busyness. I don't think we grasp what it really means to be drained. We might experience tiredness and weariness, but this snippet of Christ's life was just that - a snapshot. For three years straight it was most likely this way for Jesus. Every time He turned His head someone was touching Him or in front of Him with a dire need to be met and He met it. The second Book-End explains Jesus' persistence - "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." 

The spiritual application for Christians comes in the next verse - Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  First of all we are instructed to "beseech the Lord of the harvest" or pray "to send out workers". What is a worker? The original Greek word for "worker" here is ergatēs meaning to literally toil, labor or figuratively teach.  Second, I believe we should take on the attitude and prayer of Isaiah and fill the shoes of the "worker" as Isaiah 6:8 attests - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Then we can all step into the shoes we are supposed to be walking in anyway (Mark 16:15), with His compassion and energy driving us, as we live out - The Life Of An Evangelist.