John 1:35-42 | 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
“What Are You Looking For?”
I don’t know if this is accurate, but in this gospel reading from John, I picture John busy with a crowd in the desert when Jesus casually walks by, perhaps kicking up a cloud of desert sand. Startled, John looks up, and a feeling thirty-years-old echoes off the canyon walls. Whatever made him leap in Elizabeth’s womb back when Mary came to visit now causes him to still and for his jaw to drop. All John can do is utter, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (v.36). John’s own disciples have never seen their leader like this, and two of them drop what they are doing for him and follow Jesus.
Jesus didn’t call them. John didn’t tell them to go, to follow the One “mightier than” he (Mark1:7). With no outward direction, no coercion, the men, traditionally thought to be Peter and (the disciple) John, also hear the canyon echo and know they must follow Him. And so they do. They go.
I imagine Peter and John dodging people, trying to keep this one particular Man in sight in the thick crowd, and breathless, when they finally catch up to Him they call.
When I first read Jesus’s reply, “What are you looking for?” (v.38), I pictured the two strangers breathing down Jesus’s back and His reply as a bit of a brush-off. But as I stayed in the scene, felt the desert’s warmth on my shoulders and saw the Man who had so awed John in front of me, that wasn’t quite right. Then, instead of hearing the tone, I listened to His words: “What are you looking for?”
Maybe instead of brushing the men off, Jesus wanted for them to really think about their true desires. If they sought a life of ease, following Him wouldn’t be the answer. If they wanted a warrior to take revenge on Rome’s oppressions, He wasn’t it either. Maybe Jesus wanted the men to consider their true longings before jumping behind Him. Maybe He wanted to be certain they knew that there are many ways to be holy and only in understanding their deepest, God-given hunger would they actually be able to find their unique path: “What are you really looking for?”
Perhaps Jesus wants the same for us.
So what are our deepest desires? Because the deep ones, the ones that go far below the surface, those we can be sure are God-given. And until we uncover and live freely for those, we will never be truly at peace.
Eleven of the twelve who followed Jesus came to realize that was the life they wanted. Even though it meant a martyr’s death for nearly all of them, that life satisfied them at their core. We too must invest what it takes to hear God’s will for us so we can honestly answer Jesus’s question, “What are you looking for?”