Some of our favorite stories of Jesus’ ministry occur in response to interruptions.
Jesus is teaching all day and the disciples come to him and say, “Send the people away to get something to eat.” Jesus feeds the crowd of over 5, 000 with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6).
On another day when Jesus is teaching, parents push their children to be close to Jesus. The disciples try sending the children away, but Jesus places them front and center and says, “Let the children come to me. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Mark 10.)
In Mark 5, Jesus is on his way to heal a little girl. While walking the crowded streets, a woman reaches out to touch the edge of his clothes. Jesus stops and asks the crowd, “Who touched me?”
These stories are not about how these people interrupt the important teaching and healing of Jesus. They are stories of how Jesus interrupts the way we think things are supposed to be. In each story, Jesus stops what he is doing and devotes himself to the situation at hand. His grace-filled response is why we remember these stories still today.
Jesus interrupts our ideas of where food comes from and how we have to receive it. Jesus interrupts our ideas of who is important and should be allowed in the center of activity. Jesus interrupts our ideas about who is worthy of notice and needs healing.
In his book Reaching Out, Henri Nouwen tells about visiting a former colleague at the University of Notre Dame. As they walked across the campus, the older professor commented, “my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work” (Doubleday: 1986, p. 56).
I am not saying every demand on our time is of equal worth. We are bombarded with robocalls and infomercials that can drain precious time from family, friends, or work. But there are times in our lives when the real difference has been the grace we experienced in the unexpected encounter, the event that seemed to ruin our daily schedule, or the meal from unexpected resources in the most unlikely place.