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The Scriptorium

What's for Supper?

This is a test, but not only a test.

The Gospel of John: John 6.1-21

Read and meditate on John 6.5-9
Jesus sees “a great multitude coming toward Him,” and, knowing the time of day, He gets to work. He and His disciples start down the mountain toward a level, grassy place, and Jesus gets them on the same page with Him by asking Philip a question in the hearing of them all.

5Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and said 
to Philip, “Tell me, where shall we buy bread
for all these people?” For He saw that to
Him many were approaching. 6But He knew
what He would do, and only said this as
a test. 7So Philip answered, “Lord, who has
sufficient money so that everyone
could even have a little?” 8Then said one
of His disciples – Andrew, Simon’s brother –  
9“A lad here has five barley loaves, and other
food – two small fish. But what are these among
so many?”

- John 6.5-9

1.  We might describe Jesus as ministry-minded. What does that mean? We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). What should this mean for us? Complete this prayer: Lord, help me to be more ministry-minded, to think like You do whenever…

2.  In what sense was this a “test” for Jesus’ disciples? For what was He testing them? Does He test us like this? Can you give an example? Lord, You will probably spring a pop quiz on me today, so let me…

3.  You can see that the disciples are trying to work through this problem from a rational and material approach. But that’s not Jesus’ approach. How would you describe Jesus’ approach to dealing with this situation? How did His approach differ from that of the disciples? Lord, I seem always to be thinking rationally and materially about my needs. Help me instead to see them…

4.  As they descend the mountain, moving toward the opportunity on the grassy plain, the disciples are looking to the problem and the available resources. Jesus is looking to, well, Jesus. Apply this to a challenge you’re facing today. Lord, I have many challenges ahead of me, and what I want is…

5.  What is the primary lesson to be learned from Jesus’ “test”? Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. What were they supposed to come away with from this situation? Was their thinking wrong, or merely incomplete? Explain. Bring together into one prayer the prayers you wrote from questions 1-4.

“By explaining the purpose of that question the evangelist added: ‘He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.’ ‘To test him,’ he says, but he means, rather, to provide the proof. Indeed, he first kept Philip in doubt and difficulty because of the shortage of food, but then, when Philip would see the miracle accomplished, he would learn that everything must always be committed to God and that he should never feel embarrassed because of any shortage.” Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 AD)

The purpose of any test is both to prove and to improve those who are subjected to it. What did Jesus’ test prove to the disciples? How did it improve them? How do the tests Jesus sends your way each day prove and improve your walk with and work for Him?

Closing Prayer
O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let them be confounded and consumed
Who are adversaries of my life;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor
Who seek my hurt.
But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.

Psalm 71.12-16

Psalm 71.12-16, 3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O God, be not too far from me; my ever-present Helper be!
Consume and shame my enemies; let them reproached and humbled be.
    A Rock of habitation be, command Your Word to rescue me:
   My Rock and Fortress ever be!

But as for me, my voice I raise to sing in hope and constant praise!
With saving grace my voice will swell Your never-ending grace to tell.
    A Rock of habitation be, command Your Word to rescue me:
   My Rock and Fortress ever be!          

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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