Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Epiphany: Following Jesus

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
The “next day” is the day after John the Baptist gave his testimony concerning Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). He told how he saw the Spirit of God come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Jesus. He had received a revelation from God that “the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33). John saw and testified that Jesus is God’s Chosen One, which is to say, the Messiah, anointed by God to be king over Israel and the nations.

The following day, John was with two of his disciples. One of them, as we learn in verse 40, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The other was unnamed but has traditionally been identified as John (not the Baptist but the disciple of Jesus). John saw Jesus coming and drew their attention to him: “Behold the Lamb of God!” They embraced that revelation of Jesus and realized that this was the one for whom they had been waiting, the one whose way John had been preparing all along.

So they began following Jesus. Literally. One moment they were John’s disciples, then suddenly they were following after Jesus. Yet it all seemed quite natural. Their feet simply followed their hearts. They walked behind Jesus, as disciples did in those days, until he turned around and saw them.

Jesus stopped and asked them a question: “What do you seek?” (v. 38). It was a probing question. Did they understand what it was they were looking for? Were they ready for what it would mean in their lives? Many people do not know what it is they really want but often confuse means for ends. But it is an important question for all who would follow Jesus.

They answered Jesus’ question with a question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (v. 38). Rabbi was a title of great respect and was used to mean “Teacher.” The two disciples were looking for a dwelling place. Not a physical abode — they were not homeless — but a place for their souls to be at home. They wanted to learn from Jesus, to be his disciples.

Jesus’ answer was a simple invitation: “Come and see.” So they came and saw. They remained with Jesus for the rest of the day and, as it turns out, for the rest of their lives. On the night of the Last Supper, at the end of his ministry, Jesus would teach them something quite unexpected about his dwelling place: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). And, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). Though they did not know it on that first day, they would be Jesus’ dwelling place and he would be theirs forever.

What do you seek? Where do you dwell? Come and see.

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