John 1:35-38 (ESV)
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
There was no question that something new was “brewing”. John the Baptist had been doing exactly what he was called to do – he was preparing the people for something significant that God was doing. He had proclaimed a message of repentance and was baptizing people in preparation for God’s next movement.
And then it happens – that “next” thing shows up. On this particular day – Jesus is walking by John and his disciples – and John boldly proclaims the great new thing: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Now understand this title in and of itself would have carried some very strong and bold connotations. The Lamb of God was the anticipated one that Israel had been yearning for in order to finally right the injustices and the exile they had long endured. The Lamb of God was the redeemer par excellence that would once and for all destroy the grip of sin and death on fallen creation. The Lamb of God was God’s answer to the Fall. John knew this and John recognized, in Jesus, this was indeed the One who was prophesied about. For John, there was no doubt that Jesus was this Lamb and that Lamb was now within their midst.
It would be fair to say that John’s disciples understood the implications of this Lamb of God, and when John points Jesus out and makes the proclamation that he does – it would indeed pique the curiosity of anyone who had been anticipating God to act once again in a profound and undeniable way. Following that curiosity – John’s disciples do what would have been natural to any of us – they follow after this One to see what they can find out as well.
Knowing that he is being followed, there comes a point where Jesus turns and he asks a very direct question: “What are you seeking?” There it is – the question is out there and there is no turning back now. What are you seeking? It is as if Jesus reaches into the depths of their hearts and asks for their intentions and motives. One could say Jesus is almost asking, “Why are you following me? What do you hope to gain from this endeavor?” That is a fair question. Were these disciples truly seeking God’s redemption, this “new thing” that God was doing? Did they really understand who and what Jesus was about – or were they coming with preconceived notions that not fit the bill of Jesus?
In a sense, that question is something that Jesus asks each of us. “What are you seeking?” There are so many who profess to follow Jesus – but Jesus always cuts to the quick – and his question is legitimate because it has eternal consequences. Are we seeking a “good, moral teacher” who will impart tidbits of wisdom for living a “good life”, much like a fortune cookie at Panda Express? Are we seeking someone who will give me a good, comfortable life, taking care of all my needs as I perceive them? Am I seeking a miracle worker?
What are we seeking when we follow after this Jesus? Do we see in this One that he truly is the Lamb of God, who has come down from heaven, stepped into our place, gone to the cross that was ours, bled and died, bearing the condemnation of our sin because it was so repugnant to God? Do we seek, not what Jesus can do for me, but do we seek after our redemption because we know that without Jesus, we are utterly and totally lost and condemned? What do we seek? At the end of the day, that is a question we all must answer. It is a question that cuts to the core of our soul for in its answer rests our salvation. Do we seek Jesus for the right reason or our selfish reasons? Do we seek fellowship with the God of all creation or a genie who will placate our earthly desires?
As Christians – Jesus always asks us the questions that make us think and this one is no different for us: do we follow Jesus for the right reason?
Heavenly Father, as you look at me today and ask, “What do you seek?”, may I answer with purity of heart, may I say, “My redemption, my salvation, fellowship with the only one who can give me life.” Amen.