When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” John 1:38a (NRSV)
This morning I am struck by two questions.
First, John the Baptist was asked “Who are you?” Isn’t this what we’re all asking of ourselves? Isn’t what we are really asking of others? Aren’t we all fundamentally desiring to know and be known? I found it interesting that when asked if he was the prophet Elijah he answered, “no.” Yet, Jesus would later tell his disciples that John was, in fact, the Elijah of whom the prophets spoke (Matt 11:14). John, like all of us, was still seeking to know himself. He saw in part, and he knew in part.
As I approach my 50th birthday in a few months, I find myself stepping back and looking at the big picture of life. My mind evaluates where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am going. I believe I know myself better than I ever have, but the excavations of heart, mind, soul, and spirit are ongoing projects. “Who am I?” is still as valid a question as it ever has been. The answer is still a worthwhile pursuit.
The second question that struck me in today’s opening chapter of John’s biography are the first words of Jesus that John chooses to record: “What are you looking for?”
What an incredible question to pose to the reader. It is the pertinent question for any who read John’s Gospel. What are you looking for? What am I looking for? Savior? Teacher? Prophet? Con man? Jester? Lunatic? Liar? Lord?
John makes no bones about who he is presenting. The first 14 verses of today’s chapter, the prologue, are among the most beautifully crafted in all of God’s Message and present Jesus as Creator, Incarnate Word, Light, giver of Life, and Redeemer. Nevertheless, John seems to understand that no matter how skillfully he gives testimony to the person of Jesus he knew, saw, heard, and touched there remains for each reader two essential questions:
Who am I?
What am I looking for?
Featured image: detail from The St. John’s Bible