There are two aspects to learning for those who wish to serve the Lord, and one leads to the other. First there is learning to know Jesus; then comes learning how to share Him and what He offers to the whole fallen human race.
Read about the time Jesus fed the 5,000 (Matt. 14:13–21, Mark 6:30–44, Luke 9:10–17, John 6:1–14). List the things that the disciples would have observed that would help equip them for their future ministry. What things can we safely assume they observed that are not specifically mentioned in the Gospel accounts? Read also what Ellen White adds to this story in The Desire of Ages, pp. 364–371.
How exciting not only to listen to the greatest preacher but to observe His presentation as He preached about the kingdom of God (Luke 9:11) in a way that would have created a desire for the kingdom in every heart.
The principle of learning through observation is applicable to everyone. Book learning, or listening to instruction, must always be built upon through observation and involvement. Jesus expected the disciples of John the Baptist to learn from what they had observed.
Examine Matthew 11:1–11. What had the disciples of John the Baptist observed, and what did Jesus expect them to tell John as a result of their observations? What lesson was Jesus teaching not only John but His own disciples?
John the Baptist had previously presented Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But then John was imprisoned with no opportunity to preach, and he heard only secondhand reports of Jesus’ ministry. It seems that his prison experience caused some doubts to surface in his mind regarding Jesus. When doubts arise we should go to Jesus, and this is exactly what John did. Jesus sent John’s disciples back to tell him what they had heard and seen. As their reports encouraged John, we are left to wonder how the things that they had seen impacted their own witnessing and evangelistic ministry.
In most cases we can’t do the kind of miracles performed by Jesus. But with a willingness to die to self and live for others, what can we do in our own sphere that reflects the kind of work that Jesus did when here?