Devotional Thoughts for Today
“I do, we do, you do”
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.
“I do, we do, you do.” My wife is a teacher in Boston, and this is one of the phrases I hear her use all the time. If I were a teacher, the idea is that in order for me to teach something, an effective strategy is for me to first demonstrate the action while the students observe (I do). Then, I repeat the action, but this time I incorporate the participation of the students, while still being involved in the step-by-step process (we do). Finally, I pull my hands out of the process and let the students do it a third time, on their own (you do).
In our passage today, I see Jesus implementing a similar strategy. Amongst a hungry crowd of 4,000, He takes the seven loaves of bread and miraculously multiplies it while His disciples observe (I do). Then, He takes the bread and distributes it by putting it into the disciple’s hands (we do). Finally, His disciples take what the Lord has given them, and in turn distributes them to all the people (you do). And all the people ate and were satisfied.
Why did Jesus do it this way? He could have made the bread multiply and appear in everyone’s lap. Better yet, He could have made bread fall from the sky, and it would have been a much more spectacular sight. Yet, Jesus chose to use a ministry strategy that involved the participation of His disciples. This is a pattern that comes up all the time in Scripture: although God can accomplish His will on His own, time after time, He chooses to use ordinary people as instruments for doing His work. This is still true today! God’s Kingdom is advancing through His people, the Church! That means that wherever He has placed you today—whether it’s work, school, the home, or the office—you are the vehicle of God’s ministry in that place. The only difference in the “you do” phase of this is that God never pulls His hands out of the process. Instead, even as “you do” His work, He is always with us.
Prayer: Father, You are always at work, and Your Kingdom is continuously advancing around us. Help us to recognize that the various arenas that You have placed us in are opportunities for us to be involved in Your work. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ephesians 6
Lunch Break Study
Read John 16:7: “…Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”
Acts 1:8-9: “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
Questions to Consider
- According to these passages, why was it “better” for Jesus to ascend to heaven and depart from His disciples?
- What did Jesus say would happen when the Holy Spirit comes?
- Who is called to carry out the rest of Jesus’ mission on this earth?
- I’ve always thought that being alive during Jesus’ time on earth would have been the greatest experience. And it probably was, in many ways. But here, Jesus says that it is to our advantage that He goes away to the Father, because then the Holy Spirit would come. What is this advantage? Because Jesus took on a physical body, His direct Presence was only available in one location at a time; on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is essentially the direct Presence of Christ dwelling within every believer in every location at every time! This is a brilliant strategy by our God!
- Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes, we will receive power! What kind of power is this? In short, it’s the same power that Jesus has, because the Holy Spirit who lives within us is God!
- It’s crystal clear. We, who are the bearers of God’s Holy Presence, are the ones who are called to finish the mission. Our role is to be witnesses of everything that God has done.
Spend some time thinking of the five people you spend the most time with in your week. Maybe it includes a co-worker, a roommate, or a family member. How is God working in each of these five people? How can you join in what God is working in them? Perhaps this is part of your call, to be a vehicle of God’s grace to these people that He has placed in your life.