Mark 5 describes several of Jesus’ miracles that drew large crowds and left onlookers amazed. But beyond showcasing Jesus’ divine authority, these accounts also reveal something else.
When confronted by a demon-possessed man, Jesus not only freed the man from torment, but he also spoke to the man about God’s mercy and commissioned him for local ministry.
When an anguished father pleaded with Jesus to help his dying daughter, Scripture tells us something both simple and profound: “Jesus went with him” (v. 24).
As he was on his way, another need interrupted Jesus. A woman who’d suffered years of illness and isolation reached out in desperation. Jesus’ touch healed her physically, but he also spoke healing words: He called her daughter, assuring her of her identity as a child of God. He spoke to her of freedom and peace.
And when Jesus finally arrived at Jairus’s house to raise his daughter, we read this tender detail: “He took her by the hand” (v. 41).
In these scenes, we see not only Jesus’ power but also his pastoral nature. In his words, his spiritual care, his willingness to be interrupted and to walk with a suffering person, we see what ministry looked like for Jesus. We glimpse the gentle care of the Good Shepherd.
In As Kingfishers Catch Fire, the late Eugene Peterson describes a crisis early in his ministry. He found himself preoccupied by “the numbers game,” employing consumer models to try to grow his church. This focus felt at odds with his “deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.” The crisis eventually led to significant change. Peterson’s focus shifted to “congruence”—to living “the Christ life in the Christ way. … Not just the preaching but prayers at a hospital bed, conversations with the elderly, small talk on a street corner—all the circumstances and relationships that make up the pastor’s life,” Peterson writes. “I still had a long way to go, but at least now I was being a pastor and not staying awake at night laying out a strategy or ‘casting a vision.’ ”
Being a pastor. Some of the most important work of ministry happens not behind the pulpit but in the foyer, the counseling office, or the coffee shop. Or over Zoom, email, or text message. It isn’t flashy or fine-tuned, but it reflects the way of Christ. It is the essential work of pastoral care.
Our Spring CT Pastors issue examines this core calling, exploring how pastors are providing care in the pandemic as well as other topics like racial reconciliation, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the impact providing care has on pastors themselves. As you shepherd your flock, may you ever rely on the Good Shepherd whose care for you will never fail.