What do you want?
Where do you live?
Who will you follow?
Today we are challenged by three questions. One was asked by Andrew the fisherman. He was hanging out in the desert with John the Baptist – not a great place for fishing – and there was excitement in the camp. For many months John had been preaching that we should get ready because God’s Kingdom was coming close. Yesterday, as John was baptising people, God had spoken to him – a man who had come for baptism was the long-awaited Chosen One, the Lamb of God. That man was still in that desert place, because as Andrew was standing there with John, the Baptist spotted him, and told Andrew: “That’s him! That’s the one God said was the promised Lamb!”
I don’t know how much time Andrew spent on his fishing boat in Galilee, and how much he spent in the desert with John – at “Bethany on the far side of the Jordan”. But Andrew at least was intrigued by this new teacher, God’s chosen one. So Andrew heads off in his direction… we are told he “followed him”, perhaps literally he chased after him. And Jesus sensed Andrew coming! So the Lord turns round and fixes his gaze upon Andrew, and the first question is asked: What do you want?
Was there ever a question so trivial and yet so deep? We want things to satisfy our passing needs, and we want things to quench our deepest desires. I want an ice cream! I want world peace! I want to live a life pleasing to God so I can be happy with him on earth and in heaven for all eternity! You could equally translate the words of Jesus as “What are you looking for?” – well, take a moment to ponder that. In your life right now, what are you looking for? What one thing would transform your life for the better right now? And don’t say “an end to covid-19”; we all want that, but this is a question about your personal needs in the midst of the world’s general needs. So yes, ask yourself now: What am I looking for? What do I want?
I wonder what Andrew was looking for? A Jewish rebellion to expel the Romans from the Holy Land? A teacher to show him how to live a truly good life? In a move worthy of Jesus himself, Andrew answers a question with a question! Had he taken time to prepare his opening line to the Holy One sent by God? Or was he caught unexpectedly when Jesus turned round? Either way, we know what he said to Jesus: Where do you live?
That’s an interesting question, but really it means “How do you live?” Jesus had lived in a number of places by that time… born into a manger… exiled to Egypt as a child… staying three days in Jerusalem’s Temple as a teenager… living in the house of Joseph the Carpenter as a young man… but now clearly he is staying somewhere nearby in the wilderness because at 4 pm he invites Andrew and the other, unnamed, disciple to spend ‘the rest of the day’ with him. I wonder if that ‘one day’ actually represents the forty days Jesus spent in the desert?
Meanwhile… Where do YOU live? That’s a sensitive question right now. Maybe you’re living alone and are tired of isolation. Maybe you’re living in a house where there’s tension between different residents. Maybe you have neighbours whose behaviour disturbs you. Maybe you’re living with someone vulnerable, but you still have to go out to work. All of these things weigh on us at this time.
Whatever Andrew saw, in that time he spent with Jesus he saw enough to make his mind up. Andrew chose to follow Jesus. More than that, he invited his brother, Simon, to meet Jesus too! This leads to our third question today, the one I would ask of you: Who do you follow?
These days, the people we follow are known as influencers, and the way many follow them is on social media. I checked who the ten most followed people were in the last year, and I discovered that they include one football player, six pop stars, one game reviewer and two reality TV personalities. Does it matter that Ronaldo wears Nike trainers, or that Selena Gomez uses Adidas? The brands concerned pay millions of dollars in the expectation that it matters a lot!
Jesus is a first-century influencer in a 21st Century world. We’re not going to rush to wear what Jesus wore or buy the things he bought. But we are invited to live by his values. If Jesus came to spend the rest of the day with you, what would he see? What would he ask you to do? How would he bring his love and peace into the place where you live? We don’t need to hear God’s voice audibly, the way Samuel did – we already know the message of Jesus, that we should bless those who irritate us and make peace wherever we can.
So what do you want, deep down? Ask Jesus to provide it!
Where do you live? What are the joys and sorrows of being in that place right now? Invite Jesus to come and dwell with you, and guide all you do there.
Who will you follow? If it’s Jesus, you’ll need to look beyond social media and meet him in his Word. I can only invite you, as Andrew invited Simon. Jesus would like you to spend some time living with him – why not pick up a Gospel, and come and see!