Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Do You Seek? Where Do You Dwell? (1)

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following said to them, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38)
One day, two disciples of John the Baptist heard him say, as Jesus passed by, “Behold the Lamb of God!” So they followed after Jesus. Realizing this, Jesus turned and spoke the first “red letter” words that show up in the Gospel of John.

“What do you seek?” It is a significant question. John didn’t waste any words on chit-chat in his gospel, and certainly, every word Jesus spoke had import. Here were two disciples who formerly followed the Baptist; now they were following Jesus. Did they even know what it was they were seeking?
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” (John 1:38).
The Greek word for “stay” is meno. It means to abide, to remain, to dwell. “Where do you dwell?” they asked Jesus. They were seeking a dwelling place, a habitation. Not a physical abode — they were not homeless — but a dwelling place in God.

They had heard John say, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), and it was full of prophetic significance. Some people thought John himself might be the Messiah, or Elijah, or “the Prophet.”

“No,” he said.

“Then, who are you? What do you say about yourself,” they asked.

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.” He identified himself as the one spoken of in Isaiah 40:3.

“Then why do you baptize, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?” His ministry of baptism had prophetic significance. God had promised, through the prophet Ezekiel,
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Now here was John, with a baptism of repentance, of purification. Surely, he must be the Messiah. But no, he is a forerunner. He can only baptize with water, not with the Holy Spirit. So he answered them, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:26-27). Later, when he finally recognizes who Jesus really is, he says,
“I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:31-35)
John could only baptize with water, but he understood that Jesus is the Lamb of God who can cleanse us from all filthiness and shame, and baptize us with the Holy Spirit. John identifies Him as the Son of God, which, according to the expectation of the Old Testament, identified Him as the Messiah.

These things were not lost on John’s disciples, so when they heard him say, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” as Jesus walked by, they recognized that He was the One. They called Him, Rabbi, Teacher. They were ready to be His disciples now, to learn of Him and find their dwelling in God with Messiah.

“Where do You dwell?” they asked — and were they not saying, “We want to dwell there, too”?

“Come and see,” Jesus answered.

Part 2 | Part 3

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