Who Do You Seek?
Chapter six of Under the Influence of Jesus finds foundation upon the invitation from Jesus to the fishermen who will eventually be his beloved Apostles. There is another episode recorded in St. John’s Gospel where Jesus also extends an invitation to those who seek him.
Chapter 1 of St. John’s Gospel (vv. 35-42) records the encounter between the Baptist’s disciples and Jesus. As Jesus walked by, John the Baptist proclaims to his two disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God!” and the two disciples immediately followed Jesus. As Jesus notices them following him, he turned and asked them frankly, “what do you seek?” They responded by asking him where he is staying and he invites them to “come and see” (Jn 1:35-51). The entire exchange is deceivingly profound because there is much more going on than just a meet and greet.
The Baptist’s disciples were curious about Jesus and wanted to learn more about him. However, biblical scholars tell us that the disciples had no intention of immediately following Jesus to where he stayed; rather, they asked where he was staying so they may come and find him at another time if they so wished. Jesus’ immediate invitation to them indicates his openness to receiving them, even if it was unplanned on their part. The two men were surprised but went on to stay with Jesus and left that evening changed and convinced of Jesus’ Messiahship. Because of this change they went on to proclaim this conviction to others, who are consequently also changed because of their encounter with Jesus, like Simon who is renamed to Cephas.
The question that Jesus asked those two disciples so long ago is the very same question He stirs our hearts with: what do you seek? This question, like water in a foundation, seeps through every part of our being, and it finds its formulation when we are in our early teens. We may be distraught by the question but what we must realize when we begin to hear the question is God’s openness to receiving us, like His openness to those two disciples. He is quite ready and His answer will always be, “come and you will see”.
Our response to this invitation will require faith, courage, and love. We will need to have faith that God wants what is best for us and will never call us to a vocation, like teaching, without joy and peace. We will need courage in order to combat certain facets of our culture that tell us that joy is to be found in ease and comfort – we know that the teaching ministry can is not always easy or comfortable. Finally, we will need love in order to respond generously to God’s invitation to “come and see”. This love allows us to look beyond our own immediate determinations of who we ought to be, but genuinely discern who we are called to be by allowing God to enter our hearts and direct us towards where He stays. When we are successful at allowing the Lord to take hold of our hearts, we will, like the disciples of John, be completely transformed by Him.
After two thousand years, Jesus’ question and invitation remains the same for all of us. What is your response?