Title: What Do You Want
Text: John 1:29-42
Thesis: The thing Jesus wants is to invite us into a life changing relationship with him.
In an article from The American Scholar by Arthur Crystal, entitled "Why Smart People Believe in God" Crystal mentions some of those smart people – among them, T. S. Elliot, Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Paschal, St. Augustine who believe in God. But Arthur Crystal himself does not believe. He gives all the reasons that we're familiar with.
When he nears the end of his article, he says, Christianity, in terms of appeal wins hands down. Here's a religion that says God died for sinners so that those sinners might come to heaven. Here is a religion, he says, that beckons us to believe in a God who wants to have us mortals join him in glory and that God has done everything possible to make that happen. He says you just have to acknowledge that this business of coming to God and loving God isn't nonsense. There are too many people who are smart who believe it. Then he says this:
To see the delight in the faces of those who sing his praises, to hear the Mass at Christmas, to attend Evensong is to feel more than anything else that one has been left out of a secret. It is also to understand that the devout do not simply believe in God, they experience God. And only a fool would prefer the pride of the cynic to such knowledge.
The God Arthur Crystal was referring to, “the God who died for sinners so that those sinners might come to heaven” is the Lamb of God John the Baptist identifies in our text today.
I. Identifying Comment
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him he said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World!” John 1:29
The Gospel of John does not include the narrative of Jesus’ baptism. However, John the Baptist makes reference to his having baptized Jesus when he said, “I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:33-34
So the day following Jesus’ baptism John the Baptist is hanging out and when he sees Jesus coming toward him, he pointed at Jesus and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
When our Corky was little we were serving the Lund Covenant Church in rural Western Kansas. We lived in Summit Township, population 33, which was in the southwest corner of Decatur County, population 2,800. Did I mention… all white people of Germanic or Nordic descent? I was the first non-Swede pastor of the Church we served.
We were spending Christmas in Detroit with Bonnie’s family and Bonnie, her mother and sister’s-in –law took the kids and went to the mall. When they returned Bonnie pulled me aside and told me that while walking in the mall, Corky had taken her by the hand and pulled her over to a man sitting on a bench, pointed at him and said, “Look Mommy, a brown man.”
When I was growing up we were taught that it was rude to point at people. But then we also understand that pointing can be helpful… particularly if you have a language barrier, pointing at things can be helpful. However we also know that pointing can be hurtful. We have whistleblower laws and witness protection programs specifically to protect people from being pointed out.
In the text today John the Baptist did what he was born to do and pointed out, i.e., identified Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Just a day earlier, God himself had done the same thing… announced it for all the world to hear, “This is my dearly loved Son who gives me great joy!”
The following day next day] John was again standing in the market place with two of his disciples and as Jesus walked by John looked at him and said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” John 1:35-36
Our text begins with an Identifying Comment: Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Now, having heard John the Baptist’s comment, we hear Jesus ask a question.
II. Imperative Question (Unavoidable…)
Jesus looked around and saw them following him, “What do you want?” he asked them. John 1:38
John the Baptist must have been a pretty stand-up guy… after identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God two of his own disciples left him and followed Jesus. I imagine most of us would have felt a little bummed if we were hanging out with two of our friends and they dumped us for some new and more popular friend.
But John got it… he knew his role in life. Just a couple of chapters later some people are trying to get John all worked up by telling him about how Jesus was also baptizing people and people were going to Jesus for baptism instead of to him. This is what John said:
“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ I am only here to prepare the way for him. I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:28-30
So John’s disciples are following Jesus… tagging along behind him. Tailing him. What’s the word they use these days? Shadowing?
I read about a guy who was frightened when he realized he was being followed and called the police. The officer asked, “What’s the problem?” The man answered, “49 people are following me.” The officer asked, “Where are you?” The man answered, “I’m on Instagram.” I know... that was definitely what the kiddos call a "Dad" joke.
Anyway… when Jesus realized there were two guys following him he turned to them and asked the obvious question, “What do you want?” John 1:38
It’s an easy question! The Huffington Post has an answer.
The Top 10 Things People Want In Life But Can’t Seem To Get
Kathy Caprino, Huffington Post, Dec 06, 2017
1. #1: Happiness
Biggest challenge: “Not knowing what I want to do.”
Biggest challenge: “Not having enough money or time to accomplish the things I want to do.”
3. #3: Freedom
Biggest challenge: “Having the freedom to find my ‘true purpose’ or being lit up by the day-to-day at work.
Biggest challenge: “Lack of clarity about who I am and my purpose.”
Biggest challenge: “How to find the right role or position for me now that will bring joy in my work.”
Biggest challenge: “Balancing my need/desire for flexibility while making enough money and having the benefits I want.”
Biggest challenge: “Utilizing my potential in the best possible way, for myself and for others.”
Biggest challenge: “Feeling like I have something to offer now, rather than feeling constantly as if I’m not ready and need more training.”
Biggest challenge: “Figuring out what to do next, to keep me afloat and be a bridge to my later years and retirement.”
Biggest challenge: “Overcoming feelings of ineptitude and negativity because of career setbacks.”
I don’t know who the Huffington Post writer interviewed but I’m pretty sure they were at a different point in life than where I am. What do you want is quite the question… it is blunt and to the point. It is an imperative. It is unavoidable. I’ve found that what I have wanted was different at different points in my life. Not too long ago I decided I wanted a smoking hot body and went on a diet. But then I realized the only way that was going to happen was at the crematory. My wants have evolved over time and hopefully matured a bit. Meanwhile Jesus asked and is still asking, “What do you want?”
There’s an old joke about a little girl who came up for the children’s message during the service, and the pastor asked, “What is small and brown, has a bushy tale, climbs trees, and eats nuts?”
The little girl looked confused, and said to the pastor, “It sure sounds like you’re talking about a squirrel, but I know the answer is Jesus.” The answer in children’s sermons and Sunday School always seems to be Jesus.
Sure enough, Jesus is the answer to the question of what the disciples were looking for. They’re looking for Jesus, even without knowing it.
Jesus asked them a pretty imperative question. It was an unavoidable question. He wanted to know what it was they wanted. And of all the random possibilities out there, their answer is about as interesting as interesting gets.
It wasn’t. “Could we get a cup of coffee at Starbucks?” or “Do you have time to grab a bite so we can chat over lunch?”
They asked, “What is your address?” “Where are you staying?” Never in my entire life have I opened a conversation by asking for a person’s address or asking where they lived or where they were staying. It was an interesting answer. Actually, I think it is a little weird.
III. Interesting Answer
They replied, “Teacher, where are you staying?” John 1:38
When Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?” They responded with a question of their own. They only want to know, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
Again, this means more than, “what’s your current address?” They are really asking, “Teacher, what is it like to abide with you? Is there room for us in your life? Can we come live where you live? Will you teach us? Because, what we are looking for is something to devote our lives to. We are looking for someone who will teach us the things of God. If you are who John says you are, we want to spend every possible moment in your presence. Where are you living, so we can come and be with you?”
Jesus does what today would be unthinkable. If two guys followed me up and down the aisles of Jewell and then when confronted asked me, “Where do you live?” I don’t think I would say, “Come and see.” But that is what Jesus did.
IV. Intriguing Invitation
“Come and see,” he said. John 1:39
In our Evangelical Christian culture we often speak of the need to invite Jesus into our lives but in this story we see Jesus inviting these two men into his life. Jesus isn’t sitting around waiting for us to invite him into our lives. Instead, Jesus invites us into his life.
What we see in this text and what we hear is Jesus inviting these two disciples to enter into a relationship with him.
These two disciples initially knew Jesus through John the Baptist. Their experience with Jesus was secondhand. We are all secondhand people. We listen to FOX News or CNN. We are influenced by the voices of political biases and partisanships. We listen to Podcasts. We listen to Christian Radio. We read newspapers, magazine and books. We watch television. Much of, if not most of if not all of what we receive and think is second hand.
Jesus is offering these two disciples the opportunity of a firsthand experience with him.
LeRoy Sullivan was a member of our church. LeRoy was a salesman who had a route that took him across Kansas and all the way to southwest Colorado to Rocky Ford. Rocky Ford is famous for its cantaloupe melons, sweet corn and peaches… he would often talk about the delicious fruit and vegetables grown around Rocky Ford. He described his experiences in the most mouthwatering ways possible. When he talked about the melons and peaches you could feel the juices running down your chin. That was a secondhand experience.
Then one day LeRoy came home with his white cargo van filled with Rocky Ford Cantaloupes and invited us all to his house that hot summer night. LeRoy handed me a spoon and half of a big ole melon with a huge dipper of vanilla ice cream in the hollowed out middle and that was my own firsthand experience with a vine-ripened, sweet, juice running down my chin, Rocky Ford Cantaloupe.
Would you rather be told how pretty the sunset is or be drenched in the pinks, oranges, and purples of the evening sky? Would you rather hear a love story or fall in love and live a love story? Would you rather read a travel brochure about Peru or travel to South America and walk around macho picchu yourself? Would you rather know about Christ or know Jesus? That’s the difference between a secondhand faith and a firsthand experience. Our relationship with Christ, with each another and with ourselves cannot be based on a secondhand faith. It must be a firsthand experience.’
At the very heart of our text today is a simple timeless conversation that goes like this:
• Jesus asks, “What do you want?”
• You answer, “Well Jesus, I think I would like to get to know you better.”
• Jesus invites you to come along, “Come and live in a loving, living and learning relationship with me.”
That is the whole point of the Season we call Epiphany: Making Christ Known and Knowing Christ