The first chapter of the Gospel According to John has one of those “awkward” moments. Jesus has been baptized by John. The first disciples of Jesus are starting to come around him. We notice that the first two to follow Jesus, do just that — they literally follow him. The text (verse 38) narrates the awkward moment.
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
What do we want? What would you say in that moment? What would you say right now — thousands of years later and millions of changes today?
What do you want?
The 2017 Major League Soccer season begins this week. Lent — the 40 day period before Easter begins this week, as well. What do we want?
For some, the answer might be success. We want to know that we will have good outcome for our efforts. Not an ignoble thing. For some, the answer might be security. We want to know that we will still have a job in a few months or at the end of a career.
When we are faced with such a question, sometimes we freeze, unsure of what to say. We’re not sure if the cameras are running and we are caught in some joke. Or, someone has asked such a deep and penetrating question that seems to go to the core of our soul.
What do you want?
As the text goes, on it seems that the disciples are caught out. Unsure of what to say, perhaps we can hear some different tones of how they respond,
“Rabbi, (teacher) where are you staying?”
At first glance, a seasoned Christian might roll their proverbial spiritual eyes — are you kidding me? You want to know if Jesus is staying at the local HoJo? Days Inn? Marriott? What you want is to know where Jesus is staying? It seems a ridiculous response (and maybe it is).
But I think the disciples reflect (even in such a sophomoric way) a deep desire of the heart — we want to be where love and grace and truth and light are. Go back and read the beginning of John. When we hear those words — that Jesus was full of light, that he was the embodiment of grace and truth, that he (being God) became like us and dwelled here in glory — those words describe an appeal of the heart that a curious lover might be seeking for.
And the brilliant thing is this, if we interpret the disciples and Jesus’ interaction in twenty different ways, there is no getting past the simple fact that Jesus offers this simple invitation.
“Come, and you will see.”
Friends, no matter what our initial answer might be to What do you want, know that there is a gracious invitation from Jesus. To come, to be with him. To linger with him and to see.
May we feel at ease to accept that invitation.
Rev. Brad Kenney