Rev. Dr. Rod Sykes shares his reflection from this past Thursday’s Cross Connections service held at Lakeview United Church:
The First Disciples of Jesus
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ 39He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).
What are you looking for?’ That’s the question John’s Gospel imagines Jesus asks during his first encounter with people who will become his disciples. It’s a good question. “What are you looking for?” It is a crucial question to answer for anyone who responds to Jesus’ invitation. “If you are going to be a follower of my Way, do you understand what you are getting into?”
That is a challenge to our courage. In Mark, Matthew and Luke’s Gospels we find this blunt claim by Jesus: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. You’ve got know what you are getting into.
But there’s more to Jesus’ question. It’s not just about our level of confidence. It’s really asking if we understand Jesus’ purpose, the goal of his mission. He is offering us a grand vision of life, a great high purpose to which we can commit ourselves. This higher purpose will help us weather disappointments and downturns.
I remember my own childhood experiences of being disappointed and letdown after Christmas. There is always a letdown after the buildup to Christmas Day has passed – a feeling of “is that all there is?” No matter what age we attain I don’t think we ever outgrow this awareness of a vague disappointment that haunts our moments of great anticipation. Isn’t that why we take photos so habitually? Now that the technology of smart phones allows it, we sometimes seem to be desperately trying to prolong the moment that is slipping away. “Here, hold the baby still so I can take a pic”. We want to freeze the moment because we know it will pass too soon and leave us slightly deflated.
That reveals a deep truth about us as spiritual beings. St. Augustine famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” But this is a good restlessness, a blessing in disguise. It is a marker God has placed in our souls to help guide us towards him. Jesus question always prods us to ask of ourselves: Have i sought the right things? Am I now seeking the right things? Do my goals line up with he purposes God has for us, as we see these purposes in the teachings of Jesus and in the character of his living?
In the story John’s gospel, Jesus invites his potential disciples through find in him what they’re looking for in life. He said to them, ‘Come and see.’
He says that to us, too. Let us respond wholeheartedly, seeking in him what we are looking for.