Written by Dr. David Lamb
Thursday, 26 January 2012 00:00
John the Baptist had given him a big build up, testifying that the Spirit had descended on him and that he was the Lamb of God and the Son of God. So two of John’s followers decided to ditch John, and follow the new guy that John kept talking about.
They’re not following for long before he turns around, sees them, and says, “What are you looking for?”
Jesus’ first words in John’s gospel are a question (John 1:38). We discussed this in class yesterday, and the students were surprised that Jesus start out by making a big announcement about his identity or his purpose. Why start with a question?
A question is an invitation to relationship. And while their response isn’t profound, “Where are you staying?” it’s an acknowledgement that they want to be around Jesus some more. Jesus invites them to “Come and see.” They came and saw and learned what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
Not suprisingly, Jesus’ final words in John’s gospel are also a question, as he asks Peter that if John the disciple were to remain until Jesus comes back, “What is that to you?” (John 21:22, 23).
In this final vignette in the book, both John and Peter are recorded as asking Jesus questions (John 21:20, 21). Throughout his ministry, Jesus had modeled the importance of asking questions (e.g., John 1:50; 2:4; 3:12; 4:35; 5:6) and as Jesus’ disciples they followed his example. Disciples of Jesus ask questions.
Unfortunately, in the church it seems like we’d rather give answers than ask questions. And when people ask questions, we feel threatened. A recent Non Sequitur comic (Jan 1, 2011) includes three prehistoric people (they are wearing animal skins). One is in charge and he say, “OK, here’s how it works. First you NEVER question anything I tell you…” It’s titled “The Invention of Religion.”
What am I looking for? Jesus definitely…and hopefully a few more questions from Christians.
How can we make asking questions more a part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus?
David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.