Jesus called together his disciples and sent them out. They were to do two things: proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (verse 2). They were to meet spiritual needs and physical needs. Later, we see that when the crowds came to Jesus, He “spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing” (verse 11). Then He miraculously provided food for over 5,000 people.
Keeping this idea of meeting both physical needs and spiritual needs in balance can be difficult. Often people tend to lean one way or another. They are deeply concerned for a person’s soul, so what they want to do is share the Gospel with them more than anything else. Others see the deep physical need and pour themselves into meeting that need. What we find is that an overemphasis on one will lead to a neglect of the other.
There can be no doubt that Jesus was concerned about the needs and suffering people were facing. There can also be no doubt that Jesus was concerned about the need of the people to be cleansed and forgiven of their sins. And we seldom see Him meeting one need without being intentional at seeking to meet the other.
There will be times that the need, whether physical or spiritual, will be overwhelming. That was the case for the disciples when they were faced with feeding 5,000 people. Jesus demonstrated to them that the size of the need shouldn’t keep them from striving to do what He said. It just meant they were going to have to learn more and more what it means to trust in Him to be the one who would ultimately meet the needs before them.
Do you tend to gravitate towards meeting physical needs or spiritual needs? Why? What are some ways you can be intentional about seeking to meet the needs that you don’t gravitate towards?