Scripture: John 1:29-42
Key verse: (38) “Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’”
Reflection: What are you looking for?” That’s the question Jesus poses to Andrew and his friend in John 1:38. They have been following John the Baptist for quite some time, most likely coming to John to be baptized; looking for redemption, to be washed of their sin in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the one who would bring the kingdom of God. That’s who they were looking for, the Messiah. But what were they looking for from the Messiah? Maybe they were looking for adventure, for new experiences, to see the world beyond the sleepy little village in which they had spent their lives. Maybe they were looking to make a difference. Maybe they were looking for meaning and purpose in their lives. Is it possible they were looking for some of the same things 21st- century seekers might?
People come to church looking for something. Some are looking for twelve o’clock to get out and beat the traffic to a favorite brunch spot. Some are looking for community, for a place to belong, to connect with other people, and connect more with God in the process. Some are looking for a foundation upon which to build their lives; others for a connection with the divine; others for a connection with the past, with what life was like when they were growing up. Some are looking for healing, of body or soul or both. Some seek redemption, new life on the other side of mistakes made or opportunities missed. People come to church looking for many things.
Jesus’ question carries great power because everyone is looking for something. The world is ready and willing to offer solutions to the search. Can it be found in a big salary and the corner office? How about in that dream house in the perfect neighborhood? The world offers many possibilities: wealth, power, material possessions, the list goes on and on – but they are all ultimately found wanting, for they are dead idols. They cannot fulfill what the human heart ultimately seeks.
In 1987, the Irish rock group, U2 released what would become one of their bestselling songs, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The song’s best version is arguably the recording that includes the Harlem Gospel Choir in accompaniment, found on their “Rattle and Hum” album. See it here . Its lyrics speak of that search inherent to the human condition. The song also speaks of a belief in the coming of God’s kingdom, yet ultimately, it expresses an innate sense inherent in the human condition. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
At the turn of the 18th century, theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote of humanity’s quest for something beyond themselves, describing it as, “a taste for the infinite.” In the 20th century, Paul Tillich would speak of God as “the ground of being,” the subject of life’s “ultimate concern,” or concern for that which is ultimate, that is, beyond one’s self. Until it is recognized that the human heart longs for the infinite, the ground of being, the ultimate concern, we will not find what we’re looking for on this side of eternity. Yet with Andrew and his friend, those who would follow Jesus are invited on a journey.
“Come and see,” calls the Christ. Join the journey, for in the quest itself, there is life to be found, and from time to time, by God’s grace, one just might get a glimpse of what every human being is looking for.
Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].