“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
Friend to Friend
This month, I’ve been examining the power of our words. So today, let’s take a look at how Jesus used his words with his friends and let’s learn from the best.
Jesus was the Master of believing the best in others and encouraging them to reach beyond their own limited view of their abilities. His disciples had witnessed Jesus command a lame man to walk, restore rotting skin to a leprous outcast, remove fever from Peter’s mother with a touch, calm the raging storm, deliver a man from demons, and raise a little girl from the dead. But Jesus wanted more for his friends than to remain spectators in the gospel. He longed for them to be participants and partakers.
On a spring day, shortly after the Passover celebration, Jesus retreated to the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. However, crowds of people quickly pursued this miracle worker to witness his teaching and healing power. As the sun began to sink to the horizon, his disciples remarked that the people were growing hungry. He turned to Philip and asked, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5)
Jesus was not concerned with a lack of provisions. Rather He was taking this opportunity to invite the disciples to share in His ministry. He didn’t need their help. However, he wanted to invite them to participate in a miracle to boost their confidence and faith. It was a gentle breeze in their sails of courage.
Philip was smart. In a matter of minutes he had calculated that it would take eight months’ wages to feed the ten thousand people gathered on the hill. But Jesus wasn’t looking for facts; He was looking for faith.
Andrew was practical. He canvassed the crowd to see what resources were available…five small barley cakes and two small fish. But Jesus wasn’t looking for practical; he was looking for powerful.
Jesus told the disciples to have the crowd sit down in groups. Then he took the loaves and fish, blessed the food, and gave it to the disciples to distribute.
Did Jesus need the disciples’ help? No. But He chose to include them in the miracle. He wanted them to see that He believed in them.
Now, let’s fast forward in Jesus’ ministry and his relationship with His disciples. During one of His last moments with the band of brothers, Jesus told them in no uncertain terms the potential He saw in them. Like a coach who believes in his team, Jesus rallied the twelve: “Go rather go to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8).
Before his ascension he gave them one last pep talk: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20). They had observed, learned, and practiced. Now it was time to step out into the world and participate in ministry without Jesus’ physical presence. He believed in them and He let them know it.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Oh my, did you notice? Jesus wasn’t just talking about the twelve disciples. He was also talking about you! Jesus believes in you!
Jesus used his words to encourage his friends. I pray that we can follow His example and do the same.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of words. Help me to use my words to encourage my friends and family to be all that You have created them to be. Help me to learn from Jesus’ example to expect the best from others and encourage them to participate with You in the ministry You have marked out for them.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Go back and read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 recorded in John 6:1-15. Look for all the ways Jesus encouraged his disciples. Remember, he did not need their help but could have miraculously made the bread appear as God made the manna appear for the Israelites.
Today’s devotion is taken from Sharon’s book together!