Relationships. We all have them, in our families, our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our churches. Some of these relationships were established with little or no effort on our part. Our families are one example. Each of us was born into a family, we did not choose them and we did not seek them out, they were given to us. Other relationships required something from us, we had to exert some effort. For example, when a child goes to school they encounter other children that they do not know. If they are going to make friends they need to apply themselves to doing so. They either need to be outgoing and seek to make friends, or they need to be receptive to others who try to become friends with them. This holds true in other settings as well, places like the workplace, the neighborhood, and the church.
However, at other times connections are not established by our own efforts. On some occasions other people help bring them about. These other people act as a go-between, one who introduces or connects us to another. These connections can at times prove to be very significant. We see this a number of times in Scripture. In the remainder of this article we will look at three cases in the New Testament in which the involvement of a third party contributed to leading others into a life-transforming experience. These proved to be truly significant connections.
The first example comes from the opening chapter of John’s gospel. Here we learn that Andrew followed Jesus (John 1:40), we also learn that Andrew went and got his brother, Peter, and brought him to the Lord (John 1:41-42). Andrew was the go between, the person who introduced Peter to Jesus. This connection would be life-altering for Peter. He would hear things he had never heard before, witness things he had never seen before, do things he had never done before, and embark on a life path that probably never entered his mind. Peter heard the Son of God teach and he witnessed the many healings and miracles that Jesus did. And as if that were not enough, he was allowed to participate in the supernatural. He walked on water (Matt. 14:28-30) and was used in healing and deliverance (Mark 6:6b-13; Acts 3:6-8; 5:12-16). He even raised the dead (Acts 9:40)! His life’s work changed from being a fisherman (Matt. 4:18) to being a fisher of men (Matt. 4:19) and a leader in the church (Gal.2:9). One connection radically altered his life, and it all took place because his brother introduced him to Jesus. So a man, a family member, was used to help bring about this vital connection.
The second example is also found in John’s gospel. In the fourth chapter there is the famous conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:7-26). After this exchange the woman went back to town and invited the people to meet Jesus. In view of all He knew about her she asked them if He could possibly be the Christ (John 4:29). Some believed in Jesus because of what she said (John 4:39). The text further tells us that some Samaritans went out to see Jesus (John 4:40), additional proof of this can be found a couple of verses later where we are told they heard Him for themselves (John 5:42). After hearing Him the Samaritans came to believe that Jesus is the Savior (John 5:42). In this case a woman was used to bring people to Jesus, God can use either men or women. The Samaritan woman provided the introduction that changed the lives of a number of people in her community.
The last example we will consider comes from the fifth chapter of Luke’s gospel. In this passage we find Jesus teaching in a house (Luke 5:18). As was so often the case when Jesus was teaching there was a crowd (Luke 5:19). This was a good thing because Jesus was imparting truth to the people, but it presented a special challenge to one individual in particular. The person I am referring to was paralyzed and could not get into, or close to, the house where Jesus was teaching. This challenge was overcome with the help of some men. Mark’s account tells us that there were four of them who carried the paralytic (Mark 2:3). They carried the man up to the roof, dug through it, and lowered him down in front of Jesus. It proved to be life-changing. Jesus forgave the man’s sins (Luke 5:20) and healed his body (Luke 5:24-25). This came about because of the help of a group of people. The four men who carried the paralytic helped him make this vital connection that he could not have made on his own at that time.
In each of the texts we have looked at there was a person, or persons, who helped others make a vital connection. They helped someone get to Jesus. This is the most vital connection anyone can make. From reading the Scriptures we know that the results were truly life-changing. Let us be open to the idea that we can be the go-between, the people in the middle, who help others get to Jesus. The Lord may use us as individuals or as part of a group in order to do this. Let us also be open to the idea that the Lord will use others to get us to Jesus when we cannot get to Him on our own. He will bring people into our paths who will help us, even if they have to carry us.
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.