What Are You Looking For?
We’ve all had the experience of walking into a store and looking around, giving the impression we don’t know what we’re doing. A salesperson asks, “What are you looking for?” Many times we know exactly what we want. The person can point us in the right direction and help us make our selection. Other times we really don’t know, and give a vague answer. “I’m looking for a present for my wife,” we say, or, “I’ll know it when I see it,” which is probably less true than we’d like to admit.
In my very short sales career I was taught that when a customer said, “Just looking,” it was a type of sales resistance. He or she didn’t want to be pressured by some high-powered salesperson into buying half the store. Yet I know that sometimes “Just looking” is the correct answer to the question, “What are you looking for?” I just need time to orient myself to the store and get my bearings; then I’ll be ready to let someone help me make the right decision.
Two days in a row, Jesus walked past the place where John the Baptist was preaching and teaching. Two days in a row John said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” John was doing what he had been chosen to do—point the way to Jesus Christ. It was his mission to make sure that as many people as possible knew that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. He wasn’t sent to blow his own horn, but to signal Jesus’ arrival.
The second day, when John said, “Look!” two of his disciples got the message. They followed Jesus. They probably had no idea what would happen next. They only knew, somehow, that this is what they should do. They must have been surprised when Jesus turned around and said, “What are you looking for?” I imagine they were tongue-tied. They would likely have been overwhelmed by Jesus’ presence, his bearing. Perhaps they felt his power. How should they answer? Caught by surprise, they probably said the first thing that popped into their heads. “Rabbi, where are you staying?” This sounds to us like a request for useless information. What possible difference could this make to them? They did recognize Jesus as a teacher, thereby indicating their interest (perhaps even unknown to them) in becoming his disciples.
Jesus must have understood their confusion and embarrassment and answered their question by taking them to the place they had asked about. Their question turned out to be the right one, for it provided them with the opening they needed to ask many more questions. John tells us they stayed with Jesus for the rest of the day. Andrew, one of the two, then found his brother, Simon Peter, and brought him, widening Jesus’ circle of influence even further..
If Jesus were to ask us, “What are you looking for,” how would we answer? Would we tell him we wanted peace, or to find a home with him, or to get rid of the sinful feelings we carry with us? Would we tell him we wanted to get to know him better, or perhaps to leave all else behind and follow him? Would we say, “I just want to be in your presence and learn from you!” What is it that we want from Jesus?
Whatever our need, being with Jesus and living with and for him is a good place to start. I don’t mean this in the vague, fuzzy way some people say, “Christ is the answer,” as though that was the end of everything instead of just the beginning. Being with Jesus, learning from him, communicating with him in prayer can indeed help us find what we’re looking for. Through our association with Jesus we can begin the growth process that will help us become the kind of disciples who, like John the Baptist and Andrew, can help others find him.