January 19, 2014

What are you looking for?

One Saturday evening a few weeks ago, I had finished my sermon and worship preparation and had the itch to get out of the house. So I went to the computer and looked to see what movies were playing at the theaters. After reviewing the local options, I decided to drive to the theater in Levis Commons in Perrysburg.

I’ve never driven in Levis Commons, needless to say at night, and so I pulled out my ‘go-to’ GPS application on my phone. The woman that sits in this little device is a geographic expert, almost always directing me exactly where I am supposed to be.

So I typed in the address for the movie theater and headed out. My plan was in place and everything in control. As I left the driveway, the woman’s voice directed me to 582 west, then to 199 north, and then west on Roachton Road. When I got to Hwy 25, she directed me west, across the main highway for about a block, and then right into the Levis Commons development.

As I attempted to gain some perspective of where I was, there was quite a bit of holiday traffic and lots of shoppers walking on the sidewalks. I didn’t know where the theater was located, but I trusted my GPS expert. Until, that is, I got to an ‘intersection’ within the Commons and the voice said, “You have reached your destination.” I looked around, feeling a little on edge with traffic and pedestrians, and couldn’t see the theater. Where is it? Where do I park? Where am I? And for the first time in over a year, I looked at my phone and thought, “Do you really know what you are talking about?”

Finally I parked in front of Books a Million, went inside and asked where the theater was. And then I learned that it was around the corner and down a block. So much for trusting the so-called experts!

Days after Jesus’ baptism, John and two of his disciples were together when John noticed Jesus walking by. The Baptist excitedly pointed him out and said, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” John’s disciples saw their teacher’s enthusiasm and heard his description of Jesus and as curious students, they followed him.

Picture these two disciples following Jesus like a clumsy pair of detectives, trying to keep him in sight, within range to hear him speaking, but trying to be as inconspicuous as possible? They try to blend in with the crowds along the street, pretending to look through a vegetable cart as Jesus turns and looks because he senses that he is being watched. Can you see it? After walking a ways through town, making a turn here and a turn there, Jesus recognizes that he is being followed. Maybe he turns a corner and hides against the wall for a minute until these two amateurs scurry around the corner and he catches them in the act!

“What are you looking for,” he asks? It is a question that the author of John doesn’t answer. The disciples don’t say what it is that they are seeking. What ARE they looking for? What if Jesus were to confront you on the way into church and ask, “What are YOU looking for?” What are you seeking in your life? What are you looking for in your faith? Outside a future ticket to heaven, what does Jesus mean to you?

John’s disciples don’t say what they are looking for, but they ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying”; to which Jesus responds, “Come and see.” John has labeled Jesus as the Lamb of God and John’s disciples refer to him as Rabbi, or teacher. You see, Rabbis used a methodical and intellectual process to choose their students (disciples). And once a Rabbi chose his disciple, that student submitted completely to the Rabbi’s translation of the Scriptures while often living in the same house as the Rabbi during the training period.

With that said, the disciples of John addressed Jesus as teacher and Jesus invited them into his presence immediately without prerequisites. Unlike the Rabbis of the synagogue, Jesus wasn’t interested in who was ‘worthy’ of training. The men stayed with Jesus for the day, listening and learning. And after that experience, Andrew (one of John’s two disciples) retrieved his brother Simon Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah” (translated Anointed). When Simon Peter arrived, Jesus looked at him and said you will be called Cephas (translated Peter).

What were these disciples looking for? Since they were religious students, they were probably seeking truth. They were probably looking for the best teacher to reveal that truth. Jesus was their answer. He welcomed them without exception and taught effectively since after a day of teaching they transformed their view of him from Rabbi to Messiah!

What are you looking for? Where are you looking? Have you found what you are looking for? Are you seeking peace, truth, love, forgiveness, guidance, meaning, purpose? God is already in our presence through creation and the Spirit providing for our needs. Jesus already died for our sins, providing love, forgiveness, and freedom. The Spirit ignites passion for the callings that we have been given.

Spending time, energy, and resources trying to justify ourselves, holding bitterness toward others, or trying to compare ourselves to others is a waste and rejects the healing that comes through the forgiveness of Jesus. He loves you, forgives you, takes away fear, and wants you to live in his peace and joy. Amen.