I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: Following Jesus by Helping Others
John Keble, who was an English churchman and a poet used to say:
"When you are quite despondent, the best way is to go out and do something kind to somebody."
This is a medicine that never fails to cure. To test it, try it. Your visit to the sick, the bereaved, the disheartened, and the lonely, will kindle fires of love and hope upon your own desolate hearth. Christ was faithful and cheerful, and one reason was that he "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). Imprison yourself with your sorrow, and life will be a gloomy bondage."
Of course we can never forget that Jesus came to this earth, not only to be a good example. He was God the Son, the Second person of the Trinity who entered into this world, becoming flesh and blood, to bring salvation from sin and to save us from the eternal separation from the God of the universe that our sin merits.
However, at the same time, we have to also realize that becoming a mature Christian is to become more like the Savior that we serve. And our Lord spent much of His time doing good by helping others that the Father placed in His path.
Though we may not be able to emulate His miracles. We can mirror His compassion and love for those in need all around us. And we could offer them both help for their physical necessities, as well as giving them hope for the eternal needs which they may not even be aware that they possess.
In the quote that we began this with, Keble is referring to Acts 10:38 in speaking of Jesus. Let's start our study by looking at the context from which this reference arises. Then we will seek to apply its message to our lives.
I. The Context of Acts 10:38
First of all, the understanding that Jesus "went about doing good" in His ministry is found in the larger context of Acts 10. In this chapter, God is demonstrating to Peter and others that He is no longer dealing with the people of Israel exclusively. He has temporarily set aside His plans for them as a nation and is now dealing with humanity in general, both Jew and Gentile alike.
Gentiles, for those who don't know, are all those nations and persons who are not part of God's chosen people Israel. In the earlier chapter (9), we saw the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who was later known as the Apostle Paul. He was to become the Apostle to the Gentiles. Now in chapter 10 we see an angel of God telling the devout Gentile follower of God Cornelius to go and get Peter, who himself was given a vision to come and speak to Cornelius.
Through Peter, speaking to Cornelius and his household, Gentiles were saved and became followers of Jesus Christ and Peter realized that God does not show favoritism. All are now welcomed into God's family.
It is during the talk that Peter gave to Cornelius' household that we find out this profound truth about the good deeds of our Lord. Here is some of what Peter said:
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." (10:34-41).
So that is the context. God's message of love and salvation is about to go out, not only to the Jews, but ultimately to the ends of the earth. What does that mean for us today? Well, for one thing, it is the fact that we as Gentiles are now part of God's forever family through faith in Jesus Christ. However, in the context of our verse today that we are focusing on, it means that, in following our Lord, the world's people are all part of those to whom we should go about doing good. We represent Christ to the entire population of this planet.
Now that we understand the larger picture of this, let's spend a little time looking at how Jesus Himself did good to people.
II. Jesus' Acts of Doing Good
First of all In Scripture goodness always involves particular ways of behaving. Because God is good, he is good to his people; when people are good they behave decently toward each other, based on God's goodness to them. And no one showed doing good better than our Lord Jesus Christ.
It would be hard to talk about all that Jesus did while dwelling among us. As a matter of fact John says in his Gospel that if they were told in detail, the world itself could not contain the books written (John 21:24). However, we can give some examples of how our Lord changed the lives of those who were privileged to come in contact with our Savior.
For example, when John the Baptist was in prison and sent someone to ask if Jesus was indeed the Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets, Christ told the messengers to go back and relay a message to him: Here is what it says in the book of Matthew:
"Jesus answered and said to them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me" (Matthew 11:4-6).
We also have to realize that Jesus didn't associate Himself so much with the rich and the powerful, as most men would. Rather, He spent most of His time amongst the poor and common man. He was said to be a friend of publicans and sinners by those who would seek to discredit His ministry (Matthew 11:19). But Jesus saw that as a badge of honor, for these were the ones He was sent to help. For those that don't realize that they are sick will not recognize their need for the Great Physician (Luke 5:31).
Everywhere Jesus went He made things better for those in need. Sometimes He did it for individuals. At others He did good for mass crowds, such as the feeding of the five-thousand with five loaves and two fishes which is found in all four Gospels ( Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:30–44; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1–14 ).
Here is just a short sampling of all the good that Christ accomplished before he was crucified and rose again:
1. Cleansing a Leper Matt. 8:2; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12
2. Healing a Centurion's Servant Matt. 8:5; Luke 7:1
3. Healing Peter's Mother-in-law Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38
4. Stilling the Storm Matt. 8:23; Mark 4:35; Luke 8:22
5. Demons Leaving a Possessed Man and Entering a Herd of Swine Matt. 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26
6. Healing a Paralytic Matt. 9:2; Mark 2:3; Luke 5:18
7. Raising the Ruler's Daughter Matt. 9:18,23; Mark 5:22,35; Luke 8:49
8. Healing the Hemorrhaging Woman Matt. 9:20; Mark 5:25; Luke 8:43
9. Healing Two Blind Men Matt. 9:27
10. Curing a Demon-Possessed, Mute Man Matt. 9:32
11. Healing a Man's Withered Hand Matt. 12:9; Mark 3:1; Luke 6:6
12. Curing a Demon-Possessed, Blind and Mute Man Matt. 12:22; Luke 11:14
13. Feeding the Five Thousand Matt. 14:13; Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10; John 6:1
14. Healing the Gentile Woman's Daughter Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24
15. Healing the Demon-possessed, Epileptic Boy Matt. 17:14; Mark 9:17; Luke 9:38
16. Feeding the Four Thousand Matt. 15:32; Mark 8:1
17. Healing Blind Bartimaeus Matt. 20:30; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35
18. Casting Out an Unclean Spirit Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33
19. Healing a Deaf Mute Mark 7:31
20. Healing a Blind Man Mark 8:22
21. Raising a Widow's Son at Nain Luke 7:11
22. Healing the Infirm, Bent Woman Luke 13:10
23. Healing the Man with Dropsy Luke 14:1-12
24. Cleansing Ten Lepers Luke 17:11
25. Restoring a Servant's Ear Luke 22:51
26. Healing the Nobleman's Son John 4:46
27. Healing an Infirm Man at Bethesda John 5:1
28. Healing the Man Born Blind John 9:1
29. Raising Lazarus From the Dead John 11:43
Is it any wonder why the crowds followed Jesus everywhere. He demonstrated, every day, His love for humanity, by healing bodies and souls ravaged by sin and despair. And, of course, there was His ultimate act of goodness when He became sin for us and laid down His life on the Cross of Calvary.
III. Copying Jesus
Sadly, in looking at all the acts of goodness that our Lord did, it is easy to view all of the miracles and say that we could never be like Him because of His supernatural abilities. However, we aren't called to copy His miracles. We are called to be like Him in His character.
When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, "I do not want to be like a Paul...or any mere man. I want to be like Christ...I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints...Oh, to be more like Christ!"
And we are never more like Jesus than when we do acts of goodness and kindness. Though Christ was Lord of all, He came down to us as a servant. I like the famous verses in Philippians that tell us:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11).
The truth is that we pass people every day who are hurting and broken. They may not come right out and tell us, but if we are observing humanity with the heart and eyes of a servant, they will begin to become evident. Most of us don't wake up asking the Lord: "Who do you want me to serve today?" And I'd dare say not many will ask on Monday morning: "Lord, what needs do you want me to meet as I go through this week?"
However, a person with the true heart of a servant would do just that. And then they would be on the lookout for people whom God is placing in their path in order for them to be the physical hands and feet of Jesus on this earth today.
In the late 1800's there was a book written by Charles Sheldon entitled "In His Steps." From that book came the popular phrase "WWJD" or "What would Jesus Do?" It had a resurgence of popularity again in the 1990's. as a personal motto for some Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through their actions.
While it is obvious that we can never choose to be the Savior and die for the world, this phrase should and can remind us of our Scriptural duties to live a life consistent with the character of our Lord and to realize the infinite value of every soul that crosses our path each day. Jesus went around doing good to those He met. If He did, we should do the same.
Not only that but our greatest way of doing good is not by acts of physical kindness, though they should be included. The ultimate way of being good to those whom we meet is to tell them about the grace of God and to invite them to come to know the same Savior who was so good to us in giving to us eternal life. That is a goodness that will have an impact on the lives of people forever.
To sum things up, I love a story that was once told by Bill Morgan, who was an American writer. He said:
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: "James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom."
In the same way, no literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers.
We are the followers of the one of whom it was said: "He went about doing good. Let us imitate His wonderful example, and with the help of His Holy Spirit living in us, may we change the world by what He does through our lives!
© 2020 Jeff Shirley
Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on August 30, 2020:
Thank you sir. I appreciate that you stopped by. God bless!
KC McGee from Where I belong on August 30, 2020:
Great article GodTalk,
Without a doubt, Jesus was the greatist healer of all time. Second to none.
I really enjoyed this article. Keep up the great work.
Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on August 30, 2020:
Thank you Eric!! God bless you!!
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 30, 2020:
Very good for me to read on this Sunday morning. Well done. You inspired me.