Listen to the audio of today’s Reflection:
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 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?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
I’m glad to see this reading come up in the lectionary, because I think it raises an important question that every follower of Jesus should all ask herself or himself from time to time. And I’m particularly happy to see it come up during Lent, because that question seems intended to provoke the kind of reflection the season is meant to be all about.
But before we get to that, let’s remind ourselves where we are in the story: In yesterday’s reading, John the Baptist was performing his ministry with a group of his disciples. John caught sight of Jesus, and pointed him out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John then told his disciples that he had seen the Spirit of God descend on Jesus in the form of a dove at his baptism.
Now, in today’s reading, John once again points out Jesus to two of his disciples, and this time the two leave John and begin to follow Jesus. As he notices the two men following him, Jesus turns and asks the question that seems so important to me. He asks them, “What do you want?”
At first blush, it seems like an innocuous question. Sometimes people ask, ‘What do you want?’ and what they really mean is, ‘Beat it – you’re bothering me.’ But that’s not the sense of the question Jesus is asking here. One of the two men was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, who would become Jesus’ right-hand man and be designated as ‘the rock on which the church would be built.’ So it seems to me that when Jesus asked this question, he was really asking what the men were looking for in following him.
So like I said, it seems to me that people like us – people who think of ourselves as followers of Jesus – we really ought to ask ourselves the same question from time to time. And maybe it’s a particularly good question to ask ourselves during Lent. So what are you looking for? What is it that you hope to get from immersing yourself in the teachings of Jesus, and from participating in the life and work of his church in the world?
Some people follow Jesus looking for peace – for a break from the brutal demands of a world of work and schedules and obligations.
Other people are looking for a sense of worth – to be valued for themselves, instead of only as cogs in an economic system – as producers and consumers.
Some people are looking for a link back to the world of their youth – to a simpler world they shared on quiet Sunday mornings with their parents and grandparents.
Some people are looking for a place where others will be nice to them, a place to encounter some friendly faces once a week instead of the flat or hostile ones they run into too often.
Some people are looking for forgiveness, and for reassurance that they’re really not terrible people – that their lives aren’t destined to be forever stained by the things they’re done and now regret.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. But if those things are all we’re looking for from our lives of faith, that’s kind of a shame. Because in calling us to follow his Son, God is offering us the chance to stretch and grow as people and to experience life in a new and vibrant way – to live more abundantly. God is inviting us to take part in a great adventure – the adventure of helping him to bring about his kingdom on earth. To learn things and experience things that let us see the world in new ways and experience joys that have nothing to do with material stuff and shallow pleasures.
We think of Lent as a season of reflection, but usually we just think of reflecting on our sins. That’s obviously a fine and important thing, but it seems to me that reflecting on what we hope for from our lives of faith is also important. So it’s probably good that this passage shows up in our readings for the beginning of the season, because it invites each of us to ask ourselves as we reflect on our lives as followers of Jesus: What am I looking for?
Let’s Pray. Lord, help us to see what it really is that we’re hoping to get from our relationship with you, and remind us day by day that we tend to expect too little – that you are eager to bless us more abundantly than we would think to ask. Open our hearts and minds to see your vision for us, and to embrace the abundant life you offer us in Jesus. Amen.
Have a great weekend, and worship God joyfully on Sunday!
(The other readings for today are Psalms 22 and 130; Deuteronomy 7:12-16; and Titus 2:1-15.)