Jesus, tired and thirsty after a long walk from Judea to Galilee via Samaria, stops to take a much needed break at a well while his disciples head into town to find take-out. A seemingly unplanned encounter occurs with a Samaritan woman at the well that results in her questions being answered and in the revelation that she was talking with the Messiah. Her life is changed as well as the lives of many of her fellow townspeople who are introduced to Jesus through her testimony.
A Pharisee comes to talk with Jesus in the dark of night to avoid the disapproving eyes of his peers and has his life changed to the point that after Jesus' crucifixion he willing accompanies the burial party, supplying the necessary and costly spices for preparing the body. He bravely identifies with the Messiah.
A lame man, suffering from his affliction for 38 years, is told by Jesus to take up his pallet and walk on the Sabbath of all days. He walks away later discovering the identity of his healer and telling others that Jesus was responsible.
All are personal encounters with Jesus, the Messiah, that result in changed lives.
Yet others did not experience the same after encountering the Son of God. The Jews who witnessed a once lame man walking on the Sabbath were upset and sought to persecute Jesus. A large group of Jews, hearing Jesus claim to be the Bread of Life from heaven, became aggravated at His statements. Some who had been disciples even walked away when His statements became too hard to grasp.
Why the different outcomes to meeting the Saviour?
It seems to come down to whether or not the person or group met Jesus on a personal level. Did they get their questions answered directly by Jesus or were they left hanging because they kept their concerns to themselves? What if they had asked Jesus directly why He ignored the Mosaic Law and healed on the Sabbath? What if they had told Him one on one that they were struggling with the statements He was making about "eating His flesh and drinking His blood"? What if they gave Jesus a chance to explain Himself rather than walk away with their misunderstandings?
These examples speak to me about the value of personal, one to one ministry. It is on the eye to eye level that we can get to the heart of matters, just like Jesus did with the woman at the well. It is on a personal level that we can address the questions of our hearts, just as Jesus did with Nicodemus. It is in one to one encounters that we can be transparent and reveal our hurts in order to receive compassion and encouragement, like the lame man at Bethesda.
Ministry to the crowds is used mightily by God; i.e. Billy Graham and Beth Moore and Christian radio. But I am none of the above. I am only a single person who will most likely never speak to the masses. I doubt that I will ever experience a thousand souls saved in one day.
I am however, one who can be used by God in the life of another. I only need to be available, like Jesus at the well; willing to ask the tough questions, like Jesus with Nicodemus; looking for the opportunities God sets before me, like Jesus at the pool of Bethesda.
I am one. But God uses each one to reach one.