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The Scriptorium

Seeking Jesus

There they go, seeking Jesus again. For the wrong reasons, again.

Read and meditate on John 6.22-24.
The people had seen Jesus’ disciples departing for Capernaum, but Jesus wasn’t with them. Since no other boat was available at the time, they were puzzled about where Jesus was. They knew He must be with His disciples, but the rest was a mystery. Undaunted, they set off to find Him.

22The next day, when the people standing on
the other side, who knew that they were gone,
observed that only one boat had been there,
and Jesus had not entered it, to share
the trip with His disciples – 23but there came
boats from Tiberius unto that same
place where, when Jesus thanks had given, they ate
the bread – 24the people did not hesitate
to sail off to Capernaum, and went
in vessels, seeking Him.

- John 6.22-24

1.  Jesus, we recall, had gone back up the mountain to pray (v. 15). That evening, the disciples sailed for Capernaum (v. 17) in the sight of the people (v. 22). Does it strike you as odd that Jesus and His disciples would leave this huge crowd without telling them where they were going? Why or why not? Complete this prayer: Lord, You understood Your mission, and what You had to do to fulfill it. Help me to understand my own calling, and how today I might…

2.  John adds the detail that other boats had arrived from Tiberias, either overnight or early in the morning. Doubtless the word had reached them about Jesus’ feeding the thousands, and they were coming to have a look for themselves. Jesus’ good works always attracted people looking for something from Him. Should local churches adopt this as a pattern for their own ministries? What might be some examples of this? What about our church, Lord? How can our church do good in our community, and what can I do to…

3.  Do you wonder why no one thought to go up on the mountain, to see if Jesus was there? They’d seen Him go up there, and they’d watched as the disciples left without Him. Why do you suppose they assumed that He must have been with His disciples, rather than still alone on that mountain? What does this suggest about how people saw Jesus and His disciples? Is this how they see us? Lord, Your disciples were closely associated with You. What about me? I want people to see me as…

4.  It’s not likely that all that vast multitude “got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.” We don’t know who made this voyage, or how many. Some must have set off on foot around the lake, while others probably just went home. But given what we’ve seen thus far, what were they “seeking” who went after Jesus to Capernaum? Is there a sense in which the Gospel must be presented in ways that appeal to people’s self-interest? Explain. Lord, You are in the business of caring and meeting needs. I’m Your follower, so I should…

5.  Jesus did not seem to be concerned with attracting large numbers of followers. He didn’t linger with the multitude, or try to organize them into some movement. He sought out His disciples, and continued His work with them. As Robert Coleman observed in his excellent book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Jesus understood the importance of working with a few men, rather than trying to assemble large numbers of followers. Is this the way we today seek to bring the Kingdom of God to our communities? Explain. Bring together into one the prayers you composed for questions 1-4.

“The day following, the people who had stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there except the one that his disciples entered. They also saw that Jesus had not gone with his disciples into the boat but that his disciples were alone when they left. And why is John so exact about this? Why didn’t he simply say that the multitude had crossed over on the next day? He wants to teach us that Jesus allowed the multitudes, if not openly, at least indirectly to infer what had taken place.… What else could they do but suspect that he had crossed the sea on foot? For he could not have gone over in a ship since there was only one ship there—that in which his disciples had entered.” John Chrysostom (344-407 AD)

Chrysostom may be right about this, but I’m not so sure. My sense is that the people didn’t think through the matter of how Jesus had crossed the sea. They didn’t really care; what they wanted was simply to be where He was, and they deduced from what they knew of Him, that He must be with His disciples. Do people deduce about us that we must be with Jesus?

Closing Prayer
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23.1-4

Psalm 23.1-4 (The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
Because the Lord my Shepherd is, I shall not want, for I am His!
He makes me lie in pastures full; I rest in Him by waters still.

My soul He quickens and will bless; He leads in paths of righteousness.
Though I may walk in death’s dark vale, I shall not fear – He will not fail!

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.

Jesus is the Centerpiece of all Scripture, as He Himself explained (Jn. 5.39). But how can we learn to see Him there? How do the primary themes of Scripture revolve around Jesus? Our online course,
Introduction to Biblical Theology, shows you how best to get at, get into, and get with the Word of God, so that you can grow more consistently in the Lord. It’s free, and you can study at your own pace. For more information or to register, click here.

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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