John 1:35-42 – What Are You Seeking?

I remember one day when I was somewhere around eleven or twelve. I was sulking around because I lost something. It may have been a pocketknife, but my memory isn’t sure. For some reason, we ran into town to get something from Grandma and Grandpa Kindred. As we visited, Mom explained my worry about the lost whatever it was. To my amazement, Grandpa said, “I know exactly where you will find it.” I knew Grandpa was pretty amazing, but this is fantastic. “Yep,” he said, “it will be in the last place you look.” You know what? He was right.

One day John the Baptist and two of his disciples were hanging around when Jesus walked by. John the Apostle records it this way. “Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).” (John 1:35–42, NASB95)

In this section of John, there’s a lot of mystery but also some revelation. One thing to notice is the three-times John inserts, “which is translated.” John is evidently writing to a non-Jewish, non-Hebrew speaking audience. Another thing to note is that two of Jesus’ disciples were followers of John the Baptist. And history tells us that John the Apostle is probably the other unnamed disciple.

One of the mysteries is unstated and comes down to the timing of events portrayed in Matthew, Mark, and Luke with those in John. Did Jesus immediately go to the 40 days of wilderness temptation after His baptism as Mark records or are the days in John somewhat loose in there meaning? None of the Gospel writers wrote with the precision of a historian, that wasn’t their primary purpose. We simply don’t have all the puzzle pieces to accurately complete that picture. And yet, we can be sure that they do all fit together.

What is perhaps most important isn’t the introduction of Andrew or Simon’s new name. Perhaps the most important words are, “What do you seek?” Those are the first words spoken by Jesus in John’s Gospel. I think John intends his readers to answer that question as well.

What do you seek from Jesus?  We all come to Jesus looking for something. A better life. Freedom from guilt. Meaning in life’s absurdity. Assurance of something beyond our days. Physical, emotional, or spiritual healing. Answers to life’s most vexing questions. Freedom from oppression and injustice. The answers to all of those important wants listed above are found in the last place we will look

It is here that the narrative throws me for a loop. Andrew doesn’t offer any important reason for leaving John the Baptist and following Jesus. Instead, he asks, “where are you staying?” Jesus didn’t rebuff the question but said, “come and see.” We aren’t told why this is important or what about Jesus’ accommodations made Andrew come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah.  

Maybe, Andrew and John’s response of “where are you staying?” isn’t so crazy after all. I think what they were seeking from Jesus was time and space to get to know Him. As Jesus taught, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7–8, NASB95) It’s as if Jesus asks, “what do you seek?” And they reply, “we want to be with you, to spend time with you.” A response that Jesus welcomed.

So, again, what are you seeking from Jesus? Perhaps, we need to lay aside those big questions and important needs for a while and simply seek to be with Jesus.

Dale Heinold
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