Summary: Jesus asks a very pertinent question of us all. He already knows the answer, so what does that tell us about His motive in asking?
Also John 18:4, 20:15
“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?” 1:38
I have wished, in the past that some evangelistic Christian would sit down and have a long talk with Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel fame.
I don’t know; perhaps someone has. I do not presume to know what is really going on in Simon’s heart or anything about his private life.
But the lyrics of many of his songs over the years have led me to feel that he is not far from the Kingdom of Heaven if he would only hear the gospel and come to Christ in faith to fill the void he sings about; from the tortured soul of The Boxer to the deep loneliness of the traveling entertainer in Homeward Bound to the despairing wanderer confessing, “Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”. America P. Simon
But their combined singing talent, which is unique and appealing, aside, I think their prolonged success is largely attributable to the endearing quality that keeps their music alive; that being, the fact that most people identify with those feelings of emptiness and lostness.
As he goes on to say in America, “…countin’ the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all come to look for America”.
Well, whatever they’re looking for it is just in the heart and soul of mankind to be searching for something; reaching for something; wanting something to fill a void in them that they do not understand and therefore do not know what it is that is really needed to fill it.
This is not by any means an endorsement of the movie, “Bruce Almighty”, but in that motion picture the musical group, “Plumb” has a song titled, “God-Shaped Hole”, and the lyrics go like this:
“Every point of view has another angle
And every angle has its merit
But it all comes down to faith
That’s the way I see it.
You can say that love is not divine and
You can say that life is not eternal
“All we have is now”
But I don’t believe it
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only he can fill
Does the world seem gray with empty longing
Wearing every shade of cynical
And do you ever feel that
There is something missing?
That’s my point of view…”
Well it should go without saying that Jesus is well aware of that God-shaped hole in the human heart because His very coming was to fix that problem; fill that void.
In Luke’s gospel we’re introduced to a man named Simeon who, according to chapter 2 verse 25, was ‘…righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel…” In other words, he like all devout Jews, was looking for the coming of the Messiah. In verse 38 of that same chapter we’re told that a woman named Anna of the tribe of Asher who recognized Him when she saw him there in the temple with His parents, from that moment on went about speaking of Him to “…all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”.
In light of all that I’ve been saying to this point, it is very significant that Jesus would ask on numerous occasions, “What do you seek?”
In the first chapter of John’s gospel is the account of two disciples of John the Baptist who are sent by him to follow Jesus by the words, “Behold, the Lamb of God”.
We’re told in verse 40 that one of the two was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. It is assumed by many that the other one might have been John, the gospel writer himself. We’re not told that in the narrative.
In any case they follow after Jesus and when He sees them following He turns and asks them this penetrating question. “What do you seek?”
Now in hind sight and with the scriptures in our hands we realize something that they, at this point, would not have been thinking about.
He knew their hearts and He knew their thoughts. He knew precisely what they were seeking, even though they almost certainly did not; at least not clearly.
So His question was designed to make them think about their own motives and intent.
Their response does not seem to answer His question and yet it does to some degree. “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
They weren’t just looking for an address. It was an expression of a desire to be with Him and to find out more about Him.