The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, Look, the Lamb of God! When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, What do you want?
Two of John’s disciples heard him point to Jesus, and they followed Jesus. One of those disciples was Andrew, the brother of Peter. Everyone asks, Who was the other one? We are not told; his name is not given. Yet this is almost a certain clue as to who this other one was, for we discover in the Gospel of John that John never mentions his own name. He always refers to himself in an indirect, oblique way, such as, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20), or similar words. Since he does not give the name of the other disciple here, almost all the scholars agree that this must be John himself. So John and Andrew are the two who heard Jesus say these words.
What they heard must have struck a responsive chord, for immediately they followed Jesus. That may have been due to curiosity, but, whatever it was, they must have been drawn on immediately by the question Jesus asked of them. When he saw them following him he turned and said to them, What do you seek? Those are the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of John and they are very remarkable. According to this, they are also the very first words Jesus uttered in his public ministry; and they come in the form of a question.
I have always been fascinated by the questions God asks of man. These four words go right to the heart of life. In them Jesus asks the most profound question in anyone’s life: What are you looking for? Did you ever ask yourself, Why am I here? What do I really want out of life? That is the most penetrating question you can ask yourself.
Anyone who works knows what it is to get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to work, work all day, come home in the evening, have dinner, read the paper, listen to television, talk to the family, go to bed, get up in the morning, have breakfast, go to work, work all day, come home in the evening, have dinner, read the paper, listen to television, talk to the family, get up in the morning, etc. Have you ever asked yourself, Why? What do I want out of this?
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That is what Jesus is asking in this question. He nailed those men immediately with the profundity of it. What do you seek? Not, Whom do you seek? That would be the natural question to ask under the circumstances. No, Jesus asked What? What are you looking for? What do you really want? That is the supreme question in life!
This reminds us of that first question in the Bible, asked by God of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after the Fall: Adam, where are you? (Genesis 3:9b). That question was designed to make Adam ask himself, Yes, where am I? How did I get here? What has happened to me? Adam and Eve were hiding in the bushes. I do not think Adam asked himself why until God asked the question, Where are you? What are you doing? Why are you there? That is the most important question to answer when you are far away from God. When you answer it, you are on your way back to the God who made you.
Lord, what I really want and what I really need more than anything else is you and the life that only you can provide.
Are we settling for shallow, superficial lives because we are dodging the supreme questions?