Beyond the Jordan

Don't miss the symbolism bound up in this verse.

The Gospel of John: John 10.34-42

Read and meditate on John 10.40.

This looks like a strategic withdrawal on the part of our Lord, since by crossing the Jordan He would probably have been removing Himself from the jurisdiction of those who were so animated against Him in Jerusalem. But there may have been other reasons as well.

40And so He left and went away again
beyond the Jordan where John baptized at
the first, and stayed there.

 - John 10.40

1. John mentions that Jesus removed Himself beyond the Jordan, that is, to the east side of the Jordan River. Here He would continue His ministry and await the next developments toward His hour. From what we know about Jesus’ ministry, what was He probably doing during this time? Complete the following brief prayer: Lord, as You faithfully worked Your Personal Mission Field, so help me to…

2.  There is enormous significance to the place where Jesus went – the place where He was baptized and began His ministry. We recall that Joshua assumed leadership of Israel as they camped on the east side of the Jordan River, where he diligently prepared the people by renewing their covenant with God in preparation for crossing the Jordan and beginning the conquest of Canaan. We also recall that Joshua is the Hebrew name which in the Greek becomes Jesus, and means “He saves.” What was Jesus saying to His disciples by returning to this place, on the east side of the Jordan? Lord, all Scripture is about You. Help me as I read Your Word to…

3.  Jesus stayed in this place, just like Joshua and Israel camped on this east bank so many years before, waiting for God to direct their next movements. Jesus waited in the same way for the further approach of His hour. Evidently, doing the will of God involves more than just being active. A good bit of waiting should also factor into following the Lord’s calling. Explain. We wait on You in prayer, Lord, where, as we wait, we…

4.  Jesus was waiting for something very specific before He crossed the Jordan back into Judea to continue His ministry there. What was He waiting for (Jn. 11.1-17)? Keeping in mind the work of Joshua, so many years earlier, should we attach any significance to this event for which Jesus was waiting? Think this way: To a land dead in pagan worship and ways, Joshua brought life in God’s covenant.Jesus confronted death in that same ancient land, and for the same purpose as Joshua. I can only marvel at the mystery of Your Word and Your sovereignty, Lord! Thank You for…

5. We can easily miss the larger significance of reports such as we read in verse 40. My take on this verse differs from that of Cyril (see on), but we’re both trying not to miss the deeper meaning of what might seem a merely transitional or passing comment. These apparently insignificant texts are included for a reason, and very often that reason helps us to understand not only the situation which is recorded – Jesus crossed the Jordan to wait there – but the larger redemptive story as it appears throughout Scripture. Explain. Bring together your prayers from questions 1-4 into one prayer.

“Leaving Jerusalem, the Savior seeks a refuge in a place with springs of water so that he might signify obscurely, as in a type, how he would leave Judea and go over to the church of the Gentiles, which possesses the fountains of baptism and where many approach him crossing through the Jordan. This is signified by Christ taking up his abode ‘beyond’ the Jordan. Having crossed the Jordan by holy baptism, they are brought to God, for truly Christ went across from the synagogue of the Jews to the Gentiles and then ‘many came to him and believed’ the words that the saints spoke concerning Christ.” Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)

What place does waiting have in your work in your Personal Mission Field?

Closing Prayer
When Israel went out of Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became His sanctuary,
And Israel His dominion.
The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.

Psalm 114

Psalm 114 (Duke Street: Jesus Shall Reign)
When Israel out from Egypt went – they of God’s gracious covenant –
Out from a land of language strange, into their midst Jehovah came.

He His dominion o’er them set; at His command the dark sea fled.
Jordan subsided at His Word; mountains and hills obey our Lord.

What ails the sea that it should flee? Jordan, that it should withered be?
What makes the mountains skip like rams? What makes the hills spring up like lambs?

Tremble, O earth, the Lord is near! Jacob’s great God is present here!
He from the rock sweet water brings, making the flint flush flowing springs.
T. M. Moore

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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