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The Scriptorium

Mountain Retreat

Jesus is in Galilee, one year later.

The Gospel of John: John 6.1-21

Read and meditate on John 6.1-4.
From Jerusalem, Jesus returned to Galilee. If the feast He attended in John 5 was the Passover, then the events that follow in chapter 6 occurred about a year later (cf. v. 4). That year saw Jesus involved in many very important activities, but John was content to leave the reporting of these to the other evangelists. Consult a harmony of the Gospel for the story of Jesus’ ministry between John 5 and John 6.

1Then after these things Jesus crossed the Sea 
of Galilee (today that sea would be
Tiberius). 2And many followed Him,
because they saw the signs which He for them
performed, especially those who were diseased.
3He climbed up on a mountain, where it pleased
Him to abide with His disciples. 4And
the Feast of Passover was near at hand.

- John 6.1-4

1.  We should perhaps ask ourselves why John skipped an entire year of Jesus’ ministry. From what you’ve seen so far, how would you summarize John’s purpose in writing his gospel? What did he chiefly want to communicate concerning Jesus and His ministry? Complete this prayer: Lord Jesus, from John I’m learning to look to You for…

2.  The events of that year – which included calling the remaining disciples, the sermon on the mount, and many healings – would not have detracted from John’s purpose, but he simply considered them unnecessary, especially since the other evangelists had already recorded them (John’s was the last gospel to be written). Is there a lesson for us here about the work of the Lord, and our individual callings in that work? Explain. Lord, I can’t do everything in Your Kingdom, but I know You have called me to…

3.  Let’s consider this: A multitude is gathering to Jesus. They’re poor, hungry, and probably bringing their sick and lame with them, all to get to Jesus. So Jesus climbs a mountain? Why would He do that? I think about my own life of prayer, Lord. How serious am I when it comes to…?

4.  One reason for going up on the mountain was to get a little time alone with His disciples (v. 3). It seems that, when Jesus saw the multitudes coming up – a testimony to their faith, to be sure – He may have gone down to them, to meet them “half-way”, so to speak (cf. v. 15). Is it important that church leaders have time away from ministry together? To do what? Lord, I know that I need such time alone with You, so that…

5.  Apparently, Jesus did not attend the Passover this time around. John tells us why in John 7.1. Jesus will allow nothing to happen to Him except according to God’s timeline. He is in control of His agenda, not the needy people around Him, His enemies, or even the demands of the calendar. What does this suggest for us, as we try to be on Jesus’ agenda with Him? Bring together into one the prayers you composed for questions 1-4.

“He went up onto the mountain because of the miracle he was going to do. The disciples alone ascended with him which implies that the people who stayed behind were at fault for not following. He went up to the mountain too as a lesson to us to retire from the tumult and confusion of the world. For solitude is appropriate for the study of wisdom. Jesus often went up alone onto a mountain in order to pray, even spending the night there. He did this in order to teach us that the one who will come most near to God must be free from all disturbance and must seek times and places away from all the confusion.” John Chrysostom (344-407 AD)

Jesus frequently retired to a mountain, either to pray in solitude or to teach and be with His disciples. Do you suppose this “going up” to mountains had any symbolic significance in Jesus’ life? Explain.

Closing Prayer
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”

Psalm 2.5-9

Psalm 2.4-8 (Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
The Lord in heaven laughs in wrath
At all who embark on this cursèdpath.
His angry Word to them is plain:
“Yet shall My King in Zion reign!”

Proclaim the message far and wide,
That God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son,
Who has for us salvation won!

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.

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course,
One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, can show you how Jesus is central to all aspects of life in the world – and beyond! Our course is free, and you can study at your own pace, watching videos and using the free materials provided.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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