And Jesus Asked . . .
Have you noticed how a conversation can be shaped by the question that gets asked? (I just did it! I set you thinking along a certain line of thought by asking a question.) Because of that, the question asked can often drive the answer. Just by asking the question or the kind of question, an agenda might be set, an endpoint might be brought into view, a purpose could come into focus.
That makes it particularly interesting to listen as Jesus asks questions. I’ve noticed a few that he asked and thought it might be intriguing to listen–and learn–as he asks questions of others. Diving in to the Gospel of John, the first words John attributes to Jesus come in the form of a question.
Again the next day John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:35-39)
John (the Gospel writer) tells us that John (the one doing the baptizing and preaching) had called attention to the one who was going to come after him. Seeing Jesus, John (the baptizer) pointed Jesus out to those who were hanging out with him and declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Did those who heard him know what he was saying? Did they understand the implications of John’s word? We don’t know for sure. But we do know that John’s announcement was intriguing enough that a couple of his disciples decided to follow Jesus–not in a “come, follow me” call to full discipleship, but more of a “let’s go check this out” kind of way.
And Jesus asks them a question: “What do you seek?”
What are the implications inherent in that question? Jesus is suggesting that they are pursuing something; they are following him for some reason. Jesus is inviting them to reflect on what they really are after, what they really want. Jesus is implying that their following him is about not just physically following him but finding something. And Jesus seems to be fine with their pursuit . . . even when they answer his question in a seemingly superficial way. “Uh . . . we’re just wondering . . . ah . . . like, do you have a place to sleep tonight?”
Unsure of what they really want but having some sense that what they are looking for just might be found in Jesus, they are a bit stymied by Jesus’ question. But Jesus still invites them, “Come, and you will see.”
As I listen, it seems to me that Jesus is ok with those who are curious about him, but wants them to reflect on what they are seeking. Jesus is willing to meet the curious where they are, but invites them to let their interest draw them along further. Jesus asks this first question to engage the interested, to draw the curious, to welcome the unsure.
And even though I have been walking with Jesus for a long time, I find that he often asks me the same kind of question (perhaps for the same kinds of reasons): “What do you seek?”