Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” John 1:35-38
John the Baptist pointed out the Lamb of God to two of his disciples, and they immediately followed after Jesus. Literally. After several minutes, Jesus turned and asked them, “What do you seek?”
What do you seek? The dictionary says ‘seek’ means to go in search of, to try to discover, to ask for, to try to acquire.
What are you searching for? Peace … Redemption … Belonging …
What are you trying to discover? Your purpose … your path …
What are you asking for? Forgiveness … Answers …
What are you trying to acquire? Validation … Blessing …
What do you seek? We could paraphrase that question any number of ways. What do you want? What are you looking for? Why are you following Me? It’s worth considering why Jesus asked the question in the first place. He had to know the answer already. And notice, He asks before they get very far. This is not an upper room, last supper kind of question. It calls for examining motives and expectations before they take another step.
Jesus calls us to the same examination.
Are we following Christ because we believe we can find something? No doubt. He has the answers that cannot be found anywhere else. Or are we following Christ because of what we hope to gain? Maybe not tangible, material things, but spiritual blessings? Are we seeking Christ Himself, or the fringe benefits He offers? Do we simply want to be part of something?
Part of the disillusionment some believers experience is that they enter a relationship with Christ carrying an armload of expectations driven by a consumer mindset. I mean, we want whiter teeth, we change toothpaste. We want better gas mileage, we try an additive or replace our tires or trade cars. We are constantly reaching for more features, better performance, and improved results. When we project mindset that onto our faith, we expect our interactions with others to be more fulfilling and our needs to be met. Our purpose in life should crystallize and we should feel the sunlight of His favor every single day.
We’ve misunderstood what following is all about.
G. K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Following Jesus is hard because it goes against every single natural inclination we have. It’s about surrender and submission. As our faith strengthens, the challenges to it get more intense, the temptations to abandon it more enticing and the obstacles more formidable.
Jesus was very frank about what following Him would mean. He used words like “tribulation” and “trial” and “self-denial.” He said the world will hate us. He told a parable about counting the cost. He never shied away from telling us it would be hard.
How we react to adversity reveals what we’re really seeking.
In the book of Job, Satan approaches God postulating that Job only worships God because he benefits from it. Satan was sure if the blessings dried up, Job’s commitment would too. God’s confidence in Job was echoed by Job’s confidence in the God he trusted. “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10. In other words, Job said, “God knows my motives. He knows my heart. He knows my faith is not lip service.”
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a handle on this. My motives for following Jesus range from pure to murky, whiny selfishness. More often than not, I prefer my comfort above everything else. But when it comes right down to it, it’s like Peter said in John 6:68-69. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
So however imperfectly, I’m seeking Jesus, and I’m going to follow Him. What about you? What do you seek?