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If the present crisis keeps you from going to church can Jesus minister to you in your house? (John P. Lathrop)

 

The Coronavirus has severely impacted our world, it has disrupted the status quo. We cannot do things the way we did them before. The measures that are being taken to contain the virus vary from place to place.

In the area where I live restaurants cannot have any customers dine in, they can only sell meals for takeout. Many employers are now having their employees work from home. In the grocery store there are limits on certain items as to how many of them you can buy. Non-essential businesses are to close. Everyone is supposed to practice social distancing by staying a number of feet away from others. And lastly, there is currently a limit on the number of people who can gather in one place, the limit is currently ten (grocery stores and pharmacies are exempt).

The limit on the number of people who can gather in one place has impacted churches. Church buildings are for the most part closed. In place of the corporate gathering some churches are now live streaming their Sunday services. The pastor and maybe a few musicians gather to put together a service that is then transmitted into peoples’ houses or apartments. This is perhaps less appealing than the corporate gathering, but it is a necessary adjustment for the present time. This circumstance raises a question: can Jesus minister to someone in their house? We know He ministered in synagogues and in public places during His earthly ministry, but what about houses?

The answer to this question is of course, yes. Jesus can minister to people in their homes. There are at least two reasons for believing that this is so. The first is that Jesus can go anywhere. The second is that the Scriptures show us that Jesus did minister to people in their homes during His earthly ministry. We have multiple accounts of Him doing so in the gospels. In the remainder of this article we will take a brief look at some of the texts in which we find Him doing this. We will also note the kinds of ministries He carried out in houses.

Teaching was one ministry that Jesus carried on in houses. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told a parable about good seed and weeds that were sown in a field. His disciples did not understand this parable so when they went into a house they asked Him about it. He explained to them what the various things mentioned in the parable symbolized (Matt. 13:37-43). This was teaching they did not get when He first spoke the parable in public. So Jesus gave them a greater revelation of the truth, when they were in a house and part of a much smaller group.

On another occasion He also provided them with some private instruction and correction. His disciples had been arguing about which of them was the greatest in the group (Mark 9:33-34). He brought the issue out into the open by asking them what they had been arguing about. He then told them what it takes to truly be great. He did this in a gathering in a house. Jesus can speak to us in our homes too. And as in this text, He can correct and teach us. In Mark 10 Jesus was questioned about divorce (Mark 10:2), in response to this He gave a teaching about marriage and divorce (Mark 10:3, 5-9). Jesus’ teaching raised some question in His disciples’ minds. When they were in the house with Him they asked Him about the issue and He gave them further instruction.

Teaching was not the only ministry Jesus did in a house. In Matthew 8:14-15 we read that Jesus went into Peter’s home and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. She had a fever, Jesus touched her, and she was made well. In Matthew 9:23-25 Jesus performed a notable miracle, He raised a dead girl to life. This was in the midst of a small gathering. Jesus only let the girl’s parents and three of His disciples be with Him when He raised the girl to life (Luke 8:51). A few verses later in Matthew 9 Jesus healed two blind men at an indoor location, presumably a house (Matt. 9:29-30). So Jesus can manifest His power and heal people in private homes.

Now someone might say. “Well Jesus was physically present in the places that were mentioned above, but He is not physically present now.” That is true but it does not change anything. Even in the New Testament there is an example of Jesus healing someone without being physically present with them. In Matthew 8 a centurion came to Jesus on behalf of his paralyzed servant (Matt 8:5-6). Jesus said He would go with him to minister to the man (Matt. 8:7). But the centurion did not feel worthy to have Jesus enter his house, so he asked Jesus to just say the word and his servant would be healed (Matt. 8:8). Jesus assured the man that it would be so. The centurion returned home and found his servant well (Matt. 8:13). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8 NIV). As believers in Jesus let us not minimize how He can minister to us in our homes. He can teach us, heal us, or do anything else that we may be in need of.


 

John P. Lathrop – United States

John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.

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