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The Scriptorium

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

All work and no faith gets you nowhere.

The Gospel of John: John 6.1-21

Read and meditate on John 6.16-19a.
Sometimes the disciples are all ideas and no solutions, all effort and no results. Not unlike many churches today. What were they missing?

       16Then His disciples thought to try
and cross the sea unto Capernaum.
17They got a boat, but Jesus had not come
to them, and so they left. Already it
was dark when they departed in that ship.
18Then suddenly, the sea arose. A great
wind blew, 19and rowing, they could only make
a few short miles.

- John 6.16-19a

1.  Jesus has gone to the mountain to pray, and the disciples are left alone. Their natural instinct is to sail over night to Capernaum. If you had been there, what counsel might you have offered these disciples? Why? Lord Jesus, I see You going to the mountain to pray, and I want to follow You, so…

2.  “Jesus had not come to them.” So they left? Do we ever do anything like this, sailing off into the dark night while we leave the Light of the world up on the mountain? Explain. Let me never, Lord, never not wait on You, especially for…

3.  How would you describe the disciples’ experience of interacting with the stormy sea? What words or ideas express what they were experiencing? In your life, do you experience anything like this? Lord, sometimes I feel like I’m just running in place. I’m trying to get somewhere, but…

4.  The disciples were being taught some important lessons in these two episodes – the feeding of the 5,000 and their struggle, apart from Jesus, with the sea. What seem to you to be the main lessons Jesus wanted them to gain from these two situations? Help me to be alert whenever You are teaching, Lord, both from Your Word and…

5.  As we shall see, Jesus doesn’t condemn or berate the disciples here. He is continuing to test them because He wants them to learn as much by what they experience as by what they see and hear. Is learning by experience an important part of discipleship today? How should we apply that principle in our churches? Bring together your prayers from questions 1-4 into one prayer.

“Christ does not appear to those in the boat immediately after they set sail or at the onset of danger but only when they are far away from the shore. For the grace of our Savior does not come to us when our tribulations begin but when our fear is at its height and the danger shows itself to be great—when we are found, so to say, in the midst of the waves of affliction. Then, Christ appears unexpectedly and removes our fear and frees us from all danger. By his ineffable power he changes horror into joy, and as it were, calms the storm.… When Christ appears and looks on us, we shall effortlessly succeed even against our hope. And we who are in danger because of our distance from Christ shall no longer have to labor to accomplish what is helpful for us when he is present. Christ is our deliverance from all danger and the accomplishment of achievements beyond hope to those who receive him.” Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)

I think we tend to be very much like the disciples at this stage of their development. We encounter opportunities or challenges, and we fall back on our personal experience, material resources, and best ideas, when maybe what we need to do is meet Jesus on the mountain. Explain.

Closing Prayer
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne isestablished from of old;
You arefrom everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high ismightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Thanthe mighty waves of the sea.
Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.

Psalm 93

Psalm 93 (Trinity: Come, Thou Almighty King)
The Lord in majesty reigns, girded and clothed in strength!
Earth stands secure: Nor shall it e’er be moved;
God on His throne above set it in place with love –
His reign is sure!

What, though the floods arise, raising their voice to the skies,
Strong though they be, God on His holy throne
Drowns out their fearsome drone, hasting to save His own,

Almighty God on high, Your Word can never lie!
Your truth is sure – holy and just are they
Who tread Your holy way; Yours shall they ever stay
Lord, evermore.

T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better overall understanding of the focus, themes, narrative, flow, and application of God’s Word. Study at your own pace in this free, online course. For more information or to register, click here.

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.

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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