Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” John 1:38
What do you seek?
These are the first words John records Jesus saying. It’s not an inquiry. Jesus isn’t looking for information. It is an invitation, rather, to speak from our hearts. In our English Bibles, the question is translated a number of different ways.
What are you looking for?
What do you want?
What are you after?
A fair question to ask any Jesus follower.
What are we looking for? What is the desire of our hearts, the longing of our souls?
Do we want to be part of a movement? Do we want to enhance our reputation? Do we want peace? Acceptance? Validation? Personal redemption? Jesus knows we want all those things, but He offers something we need even more.
Jesus’s question is even more profound.
Two verses earlier, John the Baptist had clearly identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. He affirmed Jesus was the one who would take away the sin of the world. In light of that, Jesus’s question is, “Are you seeking what I can give, what I alone can give?” It is much like, “Do you truly know who I am?”
They called him “Rabbi.”
It was respectful, but it was limited. Seeing Jesus as a wise teacher was safe. It fit with their ideas of how God operated, how the universe worked. The Incarnation, a God who would sacrifice Himself, was more than they were ready to grasp.
What do we seek?
A rabbi who’s a little wiser than we are, who’ll answer our questions, solve our problems. A rabbi who’s manageable, familiar, predictable? Or are we seeking the Lamb of God?