The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
John 1:35-40 ESV
I’ve always had a soft spot for Andrew for two reasons: he was one of the first to find Jesus and follow Him, but then he hardly features in the rest of the four gospels. He’s instrumental in introducing Peter to Jesus who features massively in God’s plans for the whole world and yet doesn’t feature much in the stories himself. What a legend!
But there’s another side to this story which also intrigues me, and one which speaks to a kind of situation we can all find ourselves in at different times in our lives.
Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist which means he followed him, listened to him, learned from him and tried to be like him. He saw in John a man who spoke truth and who was somehow connected to God in a powerful, meaningful and transcendent way. But Andrew wasn’t looking to John alone. He was looking for God. He believed in the prophecies about the Messiah and when John announced that He was coming imminently – indeed that He was already in the world – Andrew must have figured that hanging around John was the best way to find the Messiah.
The most striking thing for me about this passage of scripture is the speed and suddenness of how Andrew drops John to follow Jesus. John says, pointing at Jesus, “there’s the Messiah, right there”, and Andrew turns to look and walks away from John towards Jesus, never to look back or go back. We know that John retained disciples and not all of his disciples dumped him for Jesus. But Andrew did, and we can determine from John’s own words, “I must decrease that He might increase”, that he would have been more than ok with that.
Andrew demonstrates something which is in each one of us. There’s a deep longing for purpose, for direction, for the truth, or on a more mundane and basic level, a search to know, “what do I want, and what is the purpose of my life?”
We seek for the answer to these questions in people we look up to. People we see something of God in, who when they speak, or teach, or by their actions show something of the nature of God. We are drawn to people like that because deep in our beings we are drawn to God.
We can, like Andrew, move from one person to another in the pursuit of satisfying this deep longing, but sometimes we’re drifting from one flickering light in the darkness to another without ever really knowing if we’ve found the light which is the source of all light.
Not all the people we look to for direction are like John either. Some hold us close and don’t send us away in the direction of the true light. They prefer to show you the light as they display it, rather than point you to the Original light.
We can all be like that for each other from time to time too.
John knew better. He’d seen the Original and heard the Father’s voice speak blessing over His Son, and he knew that his own life purpose was to point people to the Original light. The question deep in his own being was settled and he was living out of his life’s purpose.
Andrew was looking for meaning and purpose and only Jesus could reveal this to him. The same is true of us, which is why Jesus’ first words are stunning: “What are you seeking?”
He speaks directly to the heart of Andrew’s quest. He speaks directly to our own hearts.
If you are in that place of searching, looking, yearning for purpose, for direction, for “what should I do with my life?”, then may Andrew inspire us that as we seek, so we will find, and when we find Jesus we will discover that He is more interested in asking us what it is we want than telling us what we want.
May you search your heart and find God there in the deep, and may His ‘deep’ call to your ‘deep’ and bring you into light.
May you know that in the searching and in the following you will find the questions that bring answers, and the purpose that brings others into His light.