What do you want?

Questions God asks of us  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The early invitation to the disciples was one of exploration. John presents this dialogue in an open-ended way so that we might see what it looks like to go and explore with Jesus



John 1:35–42 NIV
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).


We are in that stage of parenthood with my toddler where the question Jesus asks here, “What do you want?” is one that takes on all kinds of different colors, tones, and sometimes smatterings of desperation.
In this stage of childhood development they want everything all the time....listen I am not an expert on child psychology and development…I am just an invested observer.
Just the other day he decided his small shovel was not adequate for his lawn business and that he needed a big-boy shovel....right now. Sunday afternoon, right now. This isnt even the most challenging part, it is when he cannot process what it is he actually wants. So Lauren and I find ourselves often saying....
(Questioning) “What do you want?”
(Desperate) “What do you want?”
(slightly angry) “What. do. you. want?!”
Now, parents, you know that this is not necessarily an invitation to name your price. That price can be downright ridiculous, or dangerous, or both. But in a loving relationship it can include meeting material need or instant comfort, but also an invitation to intimacy and something deeper.
I think you can read John’s text and the invitation from Jesus to consider what they want…as just a simple conversation or I think it might be a picture of the early invitation to intimacy and something deeper for these disciples. And for us, today.


John’s gospel tells the calling of the disciples from a slightly different perspective. Many would argue that this is not even a direct calling, but an invitation of exploration.
John the Baptist has disciples. He has those that are looking to him as rabbi and here he points them towards Jesus. It would not be common to pass on your disciples to another, that is to acknowledge your inferiority as a teacher and leader at least in comparison to another.
But John always knew he was to point to another. And here he does this.
Two of the disciples: Andrew (Peter’s brother) and another unnamed disciple. Perhaps the author and beloved disciple…but uncertain and not as important as the dialogue.
Jesus finds them following and asks them, “what do you want?”
They ask, where are you staying?
He responds with, “Come and you will see.”
These three lines, two questions and a response…they carry double meaning for the original audience, and for us.

What do you want?

Jesus notices them following....this is a simple inquiry. Hey, why are you following me? What do you want?
But it is also presented by John has an existential pondering for the audience and the reader. What do you want? Should ring in our ears as an even more significant encouragement.
The disciples are attached to Jesus mainly because of some interest or desire in something more. This idea of a potential messiah. This hint of something more. I am sure they think they know the answer to this question, but no doubt their answer is something deeper a few years later, something more weather-worn.
This is the doorway question of God to the wandering heart. What do you want?
C.S. Lewis in his famous Mere Christianity talks about our hope and the pursuit of “what we want.”
He says that we have these acute desires for something more. There are all sorts of things that offer to give it to us. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take some subject that excites us, these are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy.
Lewis makes clear, he is not speaking of bad marriages, holidays, or careers, but the best kinds. They cannot satisfy.
There are three ways to respond to this realization:
The fool’s way— he puts blame on the things themselves. The problem is the marriage, the problem is the job, the problem is I need another vacation....I can just catch that thing that is missing.
The way of the disillusioned “sensible man.” — this person hardens their heart and lowers their expectation of life. Nothing will provide. It is a better choice than the pervious but still leaves the hole, just tries to accept it as reality.
There is a third way. Christianity says to have these desires means the satisfaction for them exists. A baby feels hunger, there is food. A duckling wants to swim, there is water.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
St. Augustine: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Where are you staying?

In many ways the disciples’ response of “where are you staying,” is our answer to what we want. If you are here this morning maybe this is the dip-your-toes in the water, response....
I do not ever want to take for granted. My story....of marginality, when things crumbled we did too.
Where ever you are, if your question is one of surface exploration....that is ok.
Preach this out
Jesus, I want to stay with you a little more. But it was almost as if their souls were longing to stay with Him for all time. Maybe you are in a deeper place today? Maybe you are in a place of desperation or are tired?

Come, and You Will See

Jesus’ response is the extension of the invitation. John presents this here in a double meaning way again. The invitation to come and see if for them to come and hang at the house for an hour....and it is for something so much more.
The word follow is in this text, Jesus saw them following....it is the same word that he will use when he calls them to be disciples in following passages. It is the same word when he responds to Peter’s confession of the Messiah and tells the disciples he must go to Jerusalem and die. “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.
This word, akoloutheo, can have three different definitions in the greek. Three nuances:
Go behind someone in the most general sense (through a crowded room)
Following someone in an informal and superficial way (like a tour guide)
Following someone in a way that their life is impacted by the following.
We know what Jesus means when he says follow, we know the right answer to this definition. The problem is, for too often we are one of the other definitions.
“Come and you will see”

See what?

You will see Messianic proclamation of the Wedding at Cana. Turning water into wine, proving the Vineyards are full now in His coming
You will see Jesus love people that have never been loved, or have never known how to receive love
You will see healing and restoration
You will see Jesus feed multitudes
You will hear teaching like a shepherd leaving the 99 and then you will see it take place....maybe even for you.
You will see humility and love take on evil, and it will change you
And in the coming and seeing....you will become and do. If there was ever a time that followers of Jesus were on that deeper journey it is now.
I know this week was full of tension and anxiety and drama. And it is probably not over yet. Yesterday, we saw President and Vice President elect Biden and Harris give celebratory speeches. This election in many ways is historic:
Historic voter turnout
Historic: Most votes ever received
Historic: A woman and a woman of color to serve in the White House in this way
Historic Tension, fear, and anxiety
Can I just say, if you find yourself in a deep hole as a result of yesterday or this week…take notice and consider how closely you are following Jesus
And if yesterday or this week brought salvific, euphoric highs of victory....take notice and consider how closely you are following Jesus.
Last night, I watched our next President vow to lead for unity and to work hard to bring people together, and healing for our country. I appreciate these words, but church, this work is central to who we are. Let’s not contract it out anymore.
We were made for heaven and made to bring heaven into this world.
Albert Outler:
“Give us a church whose members believe and understand the gospel of God’s healing love of Christ to hurting men and women. Give us a church that speaks and acts in consonance with its faith—not only to reconcile the world but to turn it upside down! Give us a church of spirit-filled people in whose fellowship life speaks to life, love to love, and faith and trust respond to God’s grace. And we shall have a church whose witness in the world will not fail and whose service to the world will transform it.”
I want to be that church. What about you, what do you want?
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