One to one
Throughout the New Testament we read many examples of how Christ preached and taught to large numbers of people. In Matthew 5 we read: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them.” (KJV Matt. 5:1-2)
He also taught in the synagogues, as he did in Capernaum, to many people at once, perhaps hundreds.
And even as he walked through the streets of the cities and towns surrounding the land of Jerusalem, crowds of curious people and his disciples followed him. He often taught them by calling out to the multitudes: “Here ye and understand.” (Matt. 15)
We also know that he fed multitudes with bread and fishes “feeding four thousand men, beside women and children” on one occasion (Matt. 15), and 5,000 on another occasion (Mark 8).
But for all of his dealings with the multitudes, Christ always reached out to individuals. Indeed, I believe that his whole mission and ministry is about the “one.”
When he invited people to follow him, it always seems to be a one to one invitation. For example, when he called Matthew he said simply: “Follow me.” He invited Peter and his brother Andrew individually to: “come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4)
Almost without exception, his ministry to the sick and the afflicted was a one-on-one cleansing from sin, or healing from infirmities and afflictions, or comforting an individual who needed comfort.
When the crowd was dispersed from the woman who was taken in adultery, she was invited to go her way and sin no more. He paused amidst the crowded street to help the woman who sought relief from an issue of blood. He healed a blind man in Bethsaida, a deaf man near the sea of Galilee, and as he traveled from place to place in Galilee he healed a leper. He personally and individually comforted Martha, and then Mary as they grieved over the loss of their brother Lazarus. He put his hands on the little children, one by one, and prayed for and blessed them.
There is no way to calculate the total number of people Jesus Christ healed, whether spiritually or physically, but it’s clear that his intent was, and is, to reach out to the individual in order to save them.
By these acts Christ sets the example and leads the way for each of us to follow. In fact, I believe the whole record of his life and ministry on earth is an invitation to each of us, as individuals, to reach out to and assist, heal or comfort others we meet. Individually. One to one.
This is very comforting to me. I realize that the Lord isn’t asking me to convert thousands or feed thousands. I believe that what he really wants from each of us is to look for, or at least be aware of, one person we can help. Then go and do what we can do for that person. It may be feeding that person, comforting that person, or listening to that person. It may be rendering some kind of physical assistance, or it may be helping an individual spiritually and emotionally.
Our part in this is not to be the savior, but to become more like the Savior, and to help others do likewise. Jesus Christ will take care of the healing – of both those who are helped, and those who do the helping.