Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and then came down to choose his first twelve designated “disciples,” though it is apparent that many women and men took part in his ministry. Jesus was a team player. He modeled for his followers what they were supposed to do. He never spoke of discipleship as an exclusive office, only to be held by a few good men. Those who participated in spreading the good news included the Samaritan woman, the blind man Bartimaeus, and the thief who hung beside him on the cross (though his influence was mostly after his death). Today we say if you love Jesus, why not follow?
Following means doing. Jesus took his newly minted apostles out into the field and there they listened to and helped the multitude (Luke 6:17-26). I don’t think magical healing was the only form of healing happening here. Some people received healing from having the followers of Jesus take an interest in them. The power of Jesus’ ministry is compassion. In verses 24-26, Jesus curses the rich, well-fed (self-satisfied), trouble-free, and famous. Why? These are the people who rarely show compassion to those less fortunate.
There is a direct link between those that Jesus helps and those that he blesses. He helps the poor and says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” He blesses and helps those who are grieving, hungry, and mentally disturbed. The kingdom belongs to those who don’t know that they have it. This is in direct contrast to those today whose actions and words say, “I got mine, and I don’t care about you.”
This is how Christianity is defined. Not by theology, but by compassion. This is how Jesus is honored, not by merely holding clerical office, but by following.