Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"What Do You Want?" Jesus asks

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 
When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 
“What do you want?”
John 1:35-38

On Monday I took some time in the morning to walk the Prayer Labyrinth at St. Paul's UMC in the Museum District.  I began by reading a passage that our P1:6 Bible Study will discuss on Sunday - John 1:35-51.  It begins with two of John's (the Baptizer's) disciples who saw Jesus and started following him.  Jesus sees them following and then - the very first time Jesus speaks in John's Gospel - he asked, "What do you want?"

"What do you want?" Jesus asks.  I was personally struck by that question and entered the Prayer Labyrinth as if the Lord were asking ME that question.  "Michael, what do you want?"

During the movement toward the center of the labyrinth, I realized how afraid I am to answer that question.  My fear is that Jesus may grant it, but not in the way that I'd like to have it - simply handed to me.  Zap!  "There you go, my friend."  I think the creators of the movie Evan Almighty got it right.  Remember the scene in the movie?  "God" (Morgan Freeman) says, "If you ask for patience, do you think God just gives you patience or does he give you opportunities to be patient?  If you ask for the ability to love more, do you think God makes you more loving or does he give you opportunities to be more loving."  

See the difference?

I can think of lots of ways for me to answer Jesus' question.  I just don't want to have to do anything to get it.  That's just the truth.  I want to be the best disciple Jesus could ever ask for.  I want to know Christ deeply and live a life of transformation.  I want a ministry where I and others act as if what Jesus said is actually true.  I want the best marriage on the planet.  I want the best children the world has ever known.  These are all noble things, but attaining them - I imagine in my fear - is down-right worrisome.

But the experience on Monday wasn't all about being afraid.  What I realized also as I let the fear I have be in the space between me and Jesus is that Jesus' promise is to take care of me.  I believe that God wants these things for me also.  And the clear word for me is that God can be trusted not only to provide them, but that the means to providing them are for my own good and will not be beyond what God will enable me to bear.

So maybe the message for me is not to quiver before this question from Jesus.  But to answer it.  

As you read these verses in John, how would you answer Jesus?