31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.
At the beginning of this story, Jesus asks for a drink. Here at the end, as the disciples urge him to eat, he invites them to care about more than physical needs and to find deep fulfillment in doing the work of God. Once again, Jesus invites his followers to something more.
- Have you ever been involved in something that consumed you to the point of forgetting to eat?
- What aspects of God’s work in the world is compelling to you?
- Where might you be invited to step in to what God is doing in a new way?
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of food. And thank you for the invitation to find work in the world that is more compelling than eating our next meal. Give us hearts and imaginations to see what you are calling us to and the courage to participate in your mission in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
“Look around,” Jesus says, inviting his disciples to see as he does, opportunities to partner with others in the work that is already being done and also to be willing to hand off work that you have done to others. Caught up in work of God and acknowledging that throughout history it has been God’s work not ours, we can see where he is active and join him with gratitude and joy.
- When have you taken on work or ministry that another person has started?
- How does it feel to hand ministry over to someone else?
- Is there an area in your life/work/ministry where God is inviting you to either step up or to step down? What is your prayer regarding this?
Gracious God, we are blessed to be a part of the work that you are doing in the world. Remind us that your work started before we showed up and will continue after we are gone. Help us to be creative and faithful in our context that we might unite with others who love you in the work that you are doing in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
The woman in this story took on the work that God was doing in her village by returning to those who rejected her and being the first evangelist. Their resistance to her turned to repentance before God because her life transformed before them and they were thirsty for the living water that never runs dry. She introduced them, and they came to Jesus, and He met them where they were, giving them time and attention and drawing them to Himself.
- Are there people who need to hear the transforming work that God has done in you?
- How easy is it to share out of the personal experiences that are unique to your journey in Christ?
- How open are you to hearing the stories of others and allowing God to speak to you through them?
Gracious God, we each carry with us a story, characterized by ups and downs as well as your redeeming and compassionate grace and presence through it all. Give us the courage to share our stories in those appropriate moments, and hearts to hear with compassion and a willingness to find our own need for God in the story of another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Sometimes it is easy to pray because we have specific requests. Other times we are unable to express our deepest pain and longing. In those times, as we sit in the presence of God in silence and God hears our deepest need, we can be confident that God knows and is shaping us for a hope-filled future.
- What are you hoping for? What does it look like for you to wait for it with patience?
- What might God be desiring for you in this season? What might God be saying to you?
- Is there someone in your life that you can share the presence of God in a tangible way?
Gracious God, thank you that you know all things. Thank you that even when we are unable to voice our prayers, you know. Right now we hope for what we cannot see and we wait for it patiently. Help us to express your faithfulness in the here and now, even as we wait for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
There’s a simplicity to what Jesus calls us to do, yet there is an open-endedness to his command that can be unnerving. In this passage we are all called to the same work, but we all live into differently, depending on who we are, where we are, and who our neighbor is. It seems easier to have specific rules that we can follow, but once again, Jesus is calling us to follow him, not the law.
- How does your relationship with God reflect who you uniquely are in heart, soul, and mind? What practices draw you closer to God?
- How are you loving yourself as you love others? How comfortable are you with the idea of loving yourself?
- How is your love for God and for yourself uniting with your love for neighbor? How do you bring those 3 loves together?
Gracious God, thank you for desiring to be in relationship with us in a way that is unique to who we are. Help us to be kind to ourselves, to those we are in contact with, and to those who need our attention. May all we do be infused with your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.