Related Verses: Mark 5:22-43; 10:46-52; John 5:1-9; Ps 139:1-13; Mark 2:1-12; Acts 9:36-42
The lesson this week begins with a truly remarkable verse, found in Matthew 9:35 – “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (NIV).
This verse is remarkable for several reasons. First, it speaks to the common-ness of Jesus, telling how he went about through all the towns and villages, teaching and caring for the people he met. No limousines for him, no crowd carrying him aloft. He had a common touch. He walked in and among the people helping those who were in need. Secondly, he healed all their diseases. Can you imagine what a village looked like after he had been there awhile, with all its diseases gone!
One of the most moving and dramatic incidences if Jesus helping is found in Mark 5:22-43 where there is a multi-tiered story of Jesus providing help, first to a ruler of a synagogue whose little daughter was dying of a fever a story that was interrupted by the woman who touched his garment wanting to be healed. This train of events is interesting because we see how Jesus reacted to what amounted to an unexpected interruption. He was on his way to help the synagogue leader when the women interrupted his passage. Most of us would be quite annoyed by such a thing as going to help in one place is likely already an inconvenience. Yet Jesus does not consider the appeal of the woman to be an interruption. He stops and engages in conversation with her and, in so doing, teaches us that sometimes the best opportunities to be of help come via inconvenience.
- Have you realized yet that ministering to the needs of someone is almost always inconvenient? People do not come asking for help after you have eaten and done the dishes hence having little to do for a while. They come right as food is being put on the table!
- Can you explain why some of the greatest opportunities for ministering to people’s needs show up as interruptions?
- Do you remember how you responded last time someone who was in need of help interrupted you?
When talking of biblical examples of people who were known for helping, one cannot overlook the story of Dorcas, a woman who is called in Scripture, a “disciple.” This is the same word used to describe or name the other disciples! She was especially noted for the care she had for the widows of her town, widows being then some of the most vulnerable of persons. Some of those widows were, no doubt, in her community of faith, but others were most certainly not. She cared for them all.
- Are there any Christian believers where you live who are known for their kindness and persistent care of the down-trodden and forgotten?
- Who do you think the “widows” of today are?
- One of the most remarkable things about Dorcas is that, apparently because her work was so crucial to the work of God in that area, she was raised from the dead in order to continue her efforts.
- It is worth noting that in many countries, Christian’s have established aid societies in the name of Dorcas.
It should be noted that providing help to someone often opens the door to the discussion of deeper things, not to exclude the prospect of spiritual things. But certainly, the desire to talk of spiritual things should never be the determiner of whether or not help will be offered.
- Why are some people so willing to help while others seldom do?
- What do you think provides the motivation to be helpful? Do you think it is always the same motivations that is at work?
A very important lesson to take home this week is that helping involves action. At some point something actually has to be done if help is to be had.