What Are You Seeking?
A Meditation on John 1
“What are you seeking?”
These are the first words of Jesus in the gospel of John.
It’s a good question, because, honestly, from time to time I find myself wondering, What is it I’m wanting from God? What did I expect out of this?
Unanswered prayers stack up over time. Disappointments with God’s providence accumulate. Character flaws remain in myself and others. Church experience is always a mixed bag. Middle class American life with its endless comforts, entertainments, and gadgets can at times feel completely disconnected from anything in the New Testament.
“What are you seeking?” Of the countless ways John could have chosen to introduce things Jesus said, he chose these words.
Then the next words John records from the mouth of Jesus are, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:39)
In the immediate context, He’s telling two disciples they will find out where He’s staying. But the book of John is a carefully crafted composition, so this invitation to “come and see” also underscores John’s dominant theme of spiritual sight.
Light and Sight
Chapter one of John’s gospel, echoing the Genesis creation account, opens introducing Jesus as “the light of mankind,” (John 1:4), testifying, “we have seen His glory.” (John 1:14)
The chapter closes with a promise of sight: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
So the bookends of John 1 are light and sight.
I wonder if John had Isaiah’s words in mind: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
The whole opening chapter of John functions like an overture, introducing many of the main themes of the book, including the new creation, grace, the Lamb of God, truth, the Holy Spirit, and discipleship.
But the structure of the overture itself, opening with light and closing with sight, highlights John’s dominant motif: seeing the light of the glory of God in Christ.
John wants us to see.
“…I came into this world that those who do not see may see…” (John 9:39)
So I’m back to pondering: What am I seeking? What did I expect to get out of this? It would be good if my answer to what I’m seeking were to line up with what God wants me to find. John’s gospel is helping to recalibrate my heart’s desires to align with God’s promises of spiritual sight:
“Whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come into the world as a light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:45-46)
“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
“The world will not see Me, but you will see Me.” (John 14:19)
God is patiently reminding me that seeing the light of God’s glory—seeing Christ—is how the Christian life begins, what it is for, and where it is going. This is what I can expect from Christianity. This is what I was born again for. This is the Lords’ desire for me.
‘Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see my glory…” (John 17:24)
Jesus could have come scolding, asking, “What’s wrong with you?” He could have come angry, saying, “Don’t you know better?”
But as I read John 1 today, He came to me gently, patiently asking my restless, discontented heart, “What are you seeking?”
Lord, I want to see.
“The sun shall be no more your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;
But the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And your God will be your glory.”