"What do you want?"
I decided to read through the book of John this month, one chapter a day until I finish it. I have done this at various times in my life and each reading through I am always struck by how new and fresh it can feel. This morning in John chapter 1 there is a great scene where John the Baptist is telling people “Hey, this Messiah you have all been waiting for, he’s here…it’s not me…I haven’t even seen him…but he’s like here, now…among us…” And naturally a buzz starts to happen – people start to talk, gossip moves through crowds quickly. In the middle of this scene we have two disciples of John who are given a front row seat. All it says is that John tells them “That’s the guy…” and off they go to follow Jesus. I love thinking about the intricate details of these kinds of stories…were they just hanging out and Jesus ‘happened’ to walk by? Did they run after him? Did they debate about whether or not they should go? Once Jesus notices they are following him, it says he turns around and simply asks “What do you want?”
Now, in my Western, individualistic, extremely intelligent mind, I have always read this with a slight sense of sarcasm in Jesus’ voice – almost as if he’s saying “I can tell that you’re following me…what’s up? Can I do something for you?” But for the first time, reading it this morning, I saw a different side to Jesus’ question. A gentle side. A side that values discovery and authentic understanding.
In Jesus’ question I saw something more: What would you like for me to do? What are you expecting of me right now? What do you think you’re going to get from me? If you’re following me what’s in it for you?
When these are phrased with a sense of curiosity I begin to ask myself –
What do I want from Jesus?
If I have followed him, what am I expecting to get from him? What are the sheepish requests I mumble as I stare at the ground before him? Why did I run after him?
Jesus didn’t mince words. Everything he said had and has purpose. Why did he ask his question that way? I have to believe it’s because he wants us to discover Him. He wants us to find the image planted within our hearts that is made for communion with him and he wants us to find the joy that comes from experiencing that real, relational communion. But what do I usually answer with?
I want happiness. I want success. I want assurance. I want ease and comfort.
I want something else.
Not all bad requests – but what would it have felt like if the next words out of Andrew’s mouth when Jesus asked him this question was “How about you show us some cool trick or miracle…or how about you guarantee we have good spots in heaven…or…” When these things are said by other disciples later in the Gospels we have a gut reaction – a how could they be so dense reaction because we’re witnessing these men have the physical presence of God before them, asking them a bombshell of a question: What do you want?
I pray my answer today, and every day, at least starts with: you.
What do you want from Jesus this week?