The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).
What are you looking for?
The questions Jesus asks always repay thought, and this, his first question in the Gospel of John, is no exception. We often think of Jesus as a teacher — we examine his parables, his sayings, the moral and spiritual challenges he offers — but it’s worth noting how often he begins his teachings by asking us a question. Time and again, he throws us back upon ourselves, into what William Butler Yeats calls “the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”
And Jesus begins with this most intimate of questions: our true desire. Oftentimes, we toss this one off with an easy answer: I’m looking for a good pair of jeans, or a nice wine to have with supper. That’s what the disciples do: they ask Jesus where he is staying — as if that mattered at all, to anyone! But Jesus hears their deeper longing — “We are looking for a teacher, a spiritual guide” — just as he hears all our desires, even before we ask them. We are longing for a guide, because we have lost our way. We are longing to be loved, or to give our love, because we are lonely. We are longing to know joy, or to be whole in a way we have never known before. We are looking for light in a world which seems too cold, too indifferent, too dark.
What are you looking for, this Advent?
Jesus throws us back into our own hearts because it is there that he awaits for us. We have been made in the image of God, and all our attempts to avoid ourselves keep us far away from the God who is, paradoxically, always with us, closer than our breath. And so I’d like to invite you into an Advent discipline: Set aside ten minutes each day to be still with your own heart. Sit someplace comfortable. Turn off the TV, the radio, the small machines which beep and ping. Close your eyes. Follow your breath slowly in and out. Let the ideas which come to you hover gently, and then depart. Re-connect with your self, with what you truly yearn for.
Because Jesus came to us in the flesh, what we yearn for is really a who. He has a face and a name. God, love, Jesus, light, hope, trust, joy, community — these are not cold, abstract things to a Christian; they are embodied in Christ, whose deep longing is for you.
— Deborah Meister
Image credits: trackingwonder.com and awanderingminister.blogspot.com