SCRIPTURE READING John 1:35-50
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”
MESSAGE “What Are You Looking For?” Rev. James Renfrew
Jesus had 12 disciples, 12 people to follow him from town to town, 12 people to help him as he helped others, 12 people who became his witnesses to the cross and resurrection. Why did they follow him? They found what they were looking for when they met Jesus.
How long had they been looking? Maybe a few weeks, maybe their whole lives. Andrew and Peter walked miles out into the desert to listen to John the Baptist by the river. No one would walk so far out of casual curiosity, they were looking for something that had been missing in their lives, something that would answer their questions, something that would fill the gaps, something that would give meaning and purpose. They felt stuck and they were looking for something new. So the story is all about those 12 looking. But here’s the key: as much as they were looking for someone like Jesus, Jesus was already looking for them. Philip told Nathanael about Jesus. When Nathanael came to see Jesus for himself, he was surprised that Jesus already knew who he was. “I saw you studying and praying under the shade of the tree,” Jesus told him. Jesus already knew that Nathanael was looking for something. Jesus notices the ones who are ready.
Think for a moment about where Jesus has been looking for you – not where you would look for him, but where he’s been looking for you … in your living room, out in the barn, at your sister’s house, at school, at the bar, in the hospital, out in the field, on the beach – where else?
My mother has been doing family tree research for many years, trying to trace back both sides of my family as far as she can into the past. For the longest time one of the branches ended with a big question mark, because one the great-great uncles had gone west and was never heard from again. She has even traveled to tiny villages in northern Vermont looking for clues. Then one day, she got a hone call from a man in Texas. He explained that he was doing family research that had brought him to the clerk’s office in a small Vermont village. The man was trying to fill in the question mark on his family tree and his family was the part my mother had been missing. She was surprised to discover that the one she had been searching for had been looking for her at the same time, and the clerk in that small town put them in touch. I hope that we can be like that village clerk in Vermont, helping the ones who are looking for Jesus know that Jesus is already looking for them.
“What are you looking for?” It’s a practical question. Andrew says that he wants to know where Jesus lives, so he can stop by to talk some more. Jesus responds, “Sure, stop on over any time!”
“What are you looking for?” It’s a spiritual question, too. Nathanael liked to sit under the fig tree studying the words of scripture, dreaming about a world at peace. Jesus detected the yearning for peace in Nathanael’s heart. “Come on, Nathanael, you’re a good man, you and I will dream together.”
I’ve met many who are looking. There was the man whose wife had left him; he came to church looking for answers. There are teenagers whose lives are full of confusion; they come to church looking for ways to make wiser choices about friends, peer pressures, and family matters. There is an older woman who told me of a tragedy that happened to her when she was very young. No one else knows about it, but seventy years later she’s still looking for healing. Young children come to the church looking for love and friendship and – why not – we have lots to share! Adults come looking for the strength to be better parents, looking for peace in the middle of life’s chaos, looking for spiritual food in hungry times.
What are we looking for? We are looking for something that we can count on. We are looking for love that is unconditional, we are looking for forgiveness that is never runs out, we are looking for truth that is unassailable. We’ve had enough of love that is temporary. We’ve had enough of forgiveness that is out to lunch. We’ve had enough of truth that doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. “What are you looking for?” Jesus asked them. “Come and see!” So they took a look. They found he was the one that had all been looking for. And, all along, he had already been looking for them!