A Series of Walks
Based on the Gospel According to St John
This year, I want to introduce a series of walks based on the Gospel According to St John. As the story unfolds, we will focus on each of the main characters and you’ll have the chance to visit one of our old parish churches, dedicated to them, somewhere in the Sussex countryside. There will be an opportunity to explore the surrounding beauty on a (not too difficult) walk and an option on relaxing in a nearby hostelry at the end. I hope that you’ll also take the opportunity to consider the life of each of our subjects … which I will briefly outline in each new blog.
I will be very grateful for any comments that you may wish to make as I can hopefully incorporate your suggestions in future blogs. Please let me know if you have tried out the route too.
John described himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” in his own Gospel (derived from godspel, meaning Good Message in Old English) account. As a disciple, the Bible tells of several intimate occasions between Jesus and John which give evidence to his claim.
He was one of the fisherman struggling to catch anything on Lake Galilee when he first encountered Jesus. After hearing Him speak and miraculously landing two boats full of fish, they left everything to go with Him (Luke 5:10).
With his brother, James, Jesus describes him as one of the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17) probably due to his tendency toward violent outbursts, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them … ” (Luke 9:54). He also shows ambition when he asks Jesus, “Grant to us (him or his brother) that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory.” (Mark 10:35-45).
He remains at the core of the disciples throughout Jesus’ ministry and Jesus eventually entrusts him with the care of His mother, Mary, whilst hanging on the Cross (John 19:26-27). He again refers to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” and is the first to reach the empty tomb after receiving the news from Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-5).
John continues to be close to Jesus in the 40 days that He spends with them before His ascension. He records how he was the first to recognise Jesus on the shore as they were fishing and how they shared a meal together (John 21:7-14). Subsequently, through the days record in the book of Acts, he helps to establish the church in Jerusalem with healing miracles and by witnessing to what he had experienced (Acts 4:19-20). Indeed, the Apostle Paul later recognises John as one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9).
Scripture does not tell us whether John was martyred, as predicted by Jesus (Mark 10:38-39) or went to a quiet end in Ephesus, as some would have it. Thankfully, in addition to his gospel, we have three letters (1 John, 2 John & 3 John) and his Revelation to the seven churches in the province of Asia – which he received from an angel of Jesus Christ – to read and meditate upon.
I hope that, with this first walk, as you enjoy a time of quiet reflection (maybe before the lancets in the West Wall of the church at Patching) you will be inspired to follow me on this journey of discovery in the coming months.”