35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).
I remember it like it was yesterday: it was homecoming weekend at the college I attended. Autumn had come to the upstate of South Carolina much earlier than it did in my hometown in southern Georgia. The first month of returning to college as a sophomore had passed quickly with reunions with friends from the previous year and making a few new ones along the way. Classes had begun in earnest, home and the summer job were distant memories and a weekend of festivities was at hand.
Then I saw her.
On the old intramural field—where college football had been played until 1956—a large bonfire had been built. A DJ played music on a small stage while a growing crowd of students enjoyed mingling and horseplay in the cool fall air as night fell.
She was a freshman and was laughing and talking with a group of her fellow classmates near the fire. She was in many ways much the same as the other girls: same jewelry, same new college sweatshirt, same reaction to the boys trying to get their attention. But those eyes: they were the deepest, darkest, most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.
Those beautiful brown eyes rolled when I ventured forward and tried one of my best jokes. She moved away with her group of friends and I realized I had crashed and burned before the homecoming bonfire. However, another fire had been lit that night that I was only beginning to realize.
I remember it like it was yesterday: the date was Saturday, October 3rd 1992. Four years later, on August 3rd, 1996 the brown-eyed-girl and I were married—and the fire is still burning brightly.
What dates in your life stand out the most? What are the most memorable meetings, the unforgettable events or those lightning-from-a-clear-sky moments when you knew your life had changed forever?
As John writes his gospel he ponders the day long ago when he knew his life had changed forever.
Before he was a follower of the Christ, John was a disciple of another captivating teacher: John called the Baptist. The prophetic words and mercurial presence of the man of the wilderness captivated John, the son of Zebedee and Andrew, the brother of Peter. They were two of doubtless many followers of John the Baptist in this stage of his groundbreaking ministry. Little did they realize that even with all of the amazing events and encounters they were encountering almost daily with John, they had only just begun to see the power of God at work among His people.
And then they saw him.
The young rabbi who came and stepped into the water to be baptized by John seemed to cause their normally intense and focused leader to come unglued. John, the Baptist, who continually warned of the coming messiah now stood face to face with the Lamb of God.
John and Andrew witnessed it all: the baptism, the joy, the intense relief in the eyes of the Baptist when he encountered the quiet young man with the Galilean accent. The young rabbi’s voice was rich with the twang of the north country but his hayseed accent belied a wisdom and understanding that to the disciples seemed like staring far down into deep well.
With the awe of one who is in the presence of one greater than he and the relief of a task completed, John the Baptist calls out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” In an instant John and Andrew realize that their allegiance to the prophet of the wilderness has come to an end and an ache within them compels them to follow after the young rabbi as he makes his way along the dusty road.
Is this the son of God? What should they say to him? “Hello?” You can almost imagine the inner struggle in the two brothers as their strides bring them closer to the footsore teacher, plodding ahead in afternoon light. Maybe they elbow each other as they whisper:
No, YOU first.
I’M not going first!
Well neither am I!
Jesus settles it once and for all. He turns on his heel and asks, abruptly, seriously, “What do you seek?”
Jesus’ question seems plain but it cuts to the core of their interest in him. He is asking them what they expect to find in him. They are interested, yes, but what did they really expect of him, of the costs that would surely be involved if they continue to follow his path.
John and Andrew are brought to a halt. This is the big moment. All of the glorious prophesies of John the Baptist, all of the sharp encounters with Jewish leaders, all of their own questions and thoughts come rolling in at once. What should John and Andrew say?
Their response is as curious as it is inspiring:
“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
They could have asked Jesus anything but the one thing they really wanted was more time with the one the Baptist had declared to be the Lamb of God. Like being granted three wishes by a genie in a bottle and using your third wish to ask for more wishes, John and Andrew do not want this encounter to end. Soon the rabbi will disappear around a bend in the road and be gone—but they wish to go with him and then to stay with him.
It is a wonder that all or at least more of John’s disciples had not followed the two brothers on their pursuit of Jesus. After all, here was the very man that their own master had been preaching would come to save! And yet, these two made the walk.
Jesus knows their hearts and their motive. They are not seeking an autograph, a miracle or status, they are seeking his presence—and his friendship.
He said to them, “Come and see.”
Jesus is saying, “Do you want to know my mission? What you are called to be in this world? Come and see.”
John and Andrew follow Jesus to what is likely a humble house where he has taken up temporary lodgings. And they stayed with him talking all afternoon. John recalls even the time was about four in the afternoon: for it was about the tenth hour.
I am certain John and Andrew were treated to the same conversation as the two disciples who encountered the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. As soon as Jesus revealed himself to them they at once knew that the encounter was something special:
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” –Luke 24:32
John and Andrew’s hearts surely burned within them as they sat engaged and coming to realize that at last they had found the friend they had searched for all of their lives. They had asked Jesus for his address because they want to know where he is so that they can return again and again to stay in his presence. They want to BE with him.
The Greek here for “stay” is μένω (ménō) or “abide.” This is different from σκηνόω (skēnóō) or “encamp” that John has just used to describe Jesus’ coming to earth to “tabernacle” among us. The word conveys an idea of Jesus presence with us on a different level. The disciples abiding with Jesus is much like his own abiding with the Father [John 14:10].
As John remembers the day of his calling you are reminded of your own beginnings with Jesus—and your constant seeking of God’s will for your life today. In John and Andrew’s visit to Jesus at his home you find a key to understanding how you may know what God intends for you to do.
To discern God’s will you can look to the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. –Matthew 7:7-8
To know God’s will for you in any situation or on your own path of life you must ask. This can come only in the form of prayer. As you know from James: The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16) If you do not pray, you cannot know. You must be in conversation with your Lord to know His will.
Then seek him. As John and Andrew knew that Jesus held wondrous truths for them they wanted to know them for themselves. In seeking God’s will you must truly want to know what He desires of you, not to go off half-cocked or with an idea of what you should do but to earnestly know. In this you search the scriptures, seek the advice of other believers and set out in your heart to find Him with the same determination of the lame man tearing through a roof to lower him down to Christ.
When you find him, you must knock on the door. Do not be content with simply knowing where Jesus is but go to him and seek to abide with him as John and Andrew. You are not seeking God’s will for an autograph you are seeking His will to know what He would have you to do.
Through prayer, through pursuit and through a desire to stay with Him until His will is revealed you will find what the prophet Jeremiah discovered:
3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ –Jeremiah 33:3
(Edit: The previous edition mistakenly noted John and Andrew as “the sons of Zebedee." The sons of Zebedee were James and John and Andrew was the brother of Peter. The writer of this Deep clearly needs more coffee. [Thanks to a kind subscriber for noting the error.])
The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.