What Do You Want?
36: When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37: When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38: Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” — John 1:36-38
Jesus asks the question: What are you looking for? Jesus asks the same question today. This world is looking for something — desperately. There is a quest for some sort of awakening, a deep hunger for spiritual renewal, lurking behind all the scheduled chaos that fills our life. We as Christians have found that spiritual fulfillment.
How would your life be different if you were not a Christian? For some of us who have lived surrounded by Christian people, it’s hard to imagine, but what if you had no interest in God? How would your life be less or more or just the same?
What would you miss about church? I would never sing out loud in public were it not for church on Sunday. Which of your friends would not be your friends? If you had never met the people you have met in Sunday school, how great a loss would that be? How would your family change? How would you spend your time differently? Would you be home reading the Sunday morning newspaper? What do you do because you are a Christian that makes you happy? Which religious activities could you do without? What would be easier if you weren’t a Christian? Do you feel good about the time you spend helping strangers? Do you wish you still had all the money you’ve given away to help others and the church? Have there been experiences you would hate to have missed—hope-filled books you are glad you read, experiences of God’s grace in worship, times you’ve cared for hurting people? If you were not a Christian, would your life be less interesting?
Not everyone recognizes they are even searching for something more to add to their lives. But there are a few who have become so consumed by their spiritual needs they have “asked that question over and over” What do you want? What do you want for the rest of your lives?
When Jesus turned and confronted John the Baptist’s two disciples as they began following him, they were startled by his question and its directness. “What are you looking for?” What are you gazing at? Jesus asked. No parable, no gentle discipling; Straight to the point, more an interrogation than anything else.
During the course of Jesus’ ministry, it would become blatantly evident just what some of his so-called “followers” were looking for. They were gazing on Christ, the Son of God and as they saw Him, they come fully to understand what it was that they were looking for. Glory, Awe, Zeal, Energy!
Don’t we all want that? Glory which is magnificence, splendor. Beauty, wonder, grandeur, brilliance and exaltation.
As his reputation spread, there were the throngs that crowded around him with various diseases and ailments. They were looking for healing.
As his popularity spread, there were the religious authorities who began to question his theology and orthodoxy. They were looking for a fight.
As his miracles increased, there were the crowds of hangers-on, just there for the show. They were looking for entertainment.
As his wisdom spread, there were seekers like the rich young ruler who tried to second-guess his meanings. They were looking for an easy way into heaven.
As his fame circulated, and his famine-quenching powers became the talk of the town, there were lots of people with needs and wants who followed in his wake. They were looking for the loaves and fishes. When Jesus went off by himself to the mountains and was lost in prayer, his own disciples came and interrupted him, declaring, “Everyone is looking for you!” The disciples were right. Everyone is looking for Jesus, for the living spirit of God in their lives – even if they don’t realize it.
The answer to Jesus’ soul-searching question, “What are you looking for?” What do you want? It can’t be brought home from the shopping mall. It can’t be answered by your friends, your church or your Pastor.
Each one of us has a hole in the heart that only Christ can fill. We all have spiritual distress in our lives. It may be in small amounts or it could be in huge portions. Jesus knew there were a lot of wrong reasons as well as wrong ways for spiritual searches. Our world abounds today, as then, with counterfeit Christ’s. When Jesus confronted these two would-be disciples with his haunting question, “What are you looking for?” What do you want? The answer he received may sound strange to us, but it was actually a pretty good start. “Rabbi,” they replied, “where are you staying?” “Teacher,” they were saying, “let us join with you and be your students.” When Jesus responds to this address and request, his answer is an invitation, “Come and see.” Discovering the spirit of God, the presence of Christ, in your life is rarely experienced as a blinding light or a burning bush. Growing your soul, filling your spirit with the right nutrients and nourishment, is a lifelong process and it requires constantly keeping our gaze on Christ.
Sometimes it takes long years of sitting and watching at the Rabbi’s feet, listening to his teachings, before we can truly claim our discipleship, before we can kneel at the foot of the cross. We all must first ask, “Teacher, teach us,” before we can confess, “Jesus, save us.”
I ask every week to our congregation where have you discovered Jesus, where have you experienced Jesus this week, where have you seen Jesus?
What are we looking for? Deep in our souls, we are looking for something to believe in and hold on to, something important enough to live for, and something big enough to claim our passions. We are looking for challenge and purpose. We are looking for God.
What begins with curiosity becomes a step toward grace. The emptiness we feel from time to time is God calling us to the paths that lead to meaning. God lets us know that we can look beyond our computers and coffee cups into the enchanted possibilities of grace. God is the one who makes us long for something that lasts. God draws us toward life even when we don’t recognize what’s happening.
“Come and see, come and gaze” is how the disciples’ story begins. It’s a wonderful line and a great way to start a story. “Get up and Gaze” is the invitation to explore, discover, and travel without knowing exactly where we are going, but to know that if we catch a glimpse of God, we will also catch a glimpse of who we can be. Come and see. Come and look for places where we’ve never been. Come and see what it means to hope, believe, and follow.
The people who follow Jesus end up doing the things Jesus did. They care for the hurting, listen to the lonely, feed the hungry, pray for the brokenhearted, bandage those who are wounded, do more than is expected. They look for God and find extraordinary lives.
The spirit of adventure is what calls us to worship. We come to seek the meaning of life, join with people on the journey, and ask God to help us see where grace invites us. We come to look at the gifts we’ve been given and the needs of the world. We come to discover the possibilities.
If we worship God, if we share our lives with other people looking for God, we will see beyond what we have assumed. If we look for God, we will find that God is looking for us, offering life.
When Jesus finally asks you by name, “What are you looking for?” you can give the only answer that satisfies:
“Jesus, the Lamb of God.”
Rev. Thomas Beckette is pastor of Nighbert Memorial United Methodist Church and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.