What Seek Ye?

What Seek Ye?

© 2021 C. O. Bishop

John 1:35-39

Introduction:

The passage we are reading, in John chapter one, is really about the initial introduction Jesus had with the men who would become His disciples, and eventually His Apostles. So, it may seem a bit of a “stretch,” to apply it to believers today.

But I think it is appropriate to remember that, except for Judas, these men were already believers, as far as we can tell. They believed the Word of God, even if they didn’t understand it all…just like we do. They were only transferring their worship from a distant, poorly understood God, whose judgment they feared, but whom they timidly “loved from a distance,” to a personal, right-there-with-them Lord who they also did not really understand. And they learned to Love Him personally, fiercely: and, in spite of all their failings, He loved them back.

So, let’s read the context: beginning in verse 35: John the Baptist was standing with two of his disciples…men who had believed his message of the coming kingdom, and had heard him proclaim Jesus to be the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the World.” We aren’t told how anyone responded to that first announcement, in verses 29-34. But in verses 35-46, we see things beginning to happen: the next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus passing by again, and gave his disciples a bit of a “nudge.” He said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” And that was all it took! Those two men left John immediately and followed Jesus. But Jesus turned around and asked them, “What Seek Ye?” Now, if I had been the one asking that question, my intent would have been to challenge the persons following me to give account for their actions: “Why are you following me?!”

But that does not seem to be Jesus’s intent at all: He was God in the flesh, and He knew their hearts. He knew why they were following Him! So why would He ask? I must conclude that He wanted them to answer for their own benefit: “What am I doing? Why am I following this man? What do I hope to gain by it? What do I hope to learn?

And their answer was a question, as simple as an answer could be…and necessarily vague: they really had no idea what to expect. They simply asked, in return, “Master, Where dwellest thou?

What Questions should we ask?

I think that is an appropriate “first question” for each of us to ask as well, but I think we also should ask ourselves, “What am I seeking?

Why am I seeking to fellowship with God? What am I trying to accomplish? Or, what do I hope to gain? Do I really want to Know Him better, or is this some sort of religious “self-help” experience? Am I just hoping to find some peace and happiness? Am I looking for exciting supernatural experiences? Entertainment? Increased social standing?  “What am I seeking?”

If what you are seeking boils down to a genuine need for a real relationship with Jesus Christ; the Biblical Jesus, who is the Real, Eternal God, living in human form, then the next question truly could echo the Disciples, saying, “Master, Where Dwellest thou?”

“What you are seeking” will direct you to seek in an appropriate place. You have already placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior. But, can you learn how to consciously find His presence on a daily basis and repeatedly come back to that closeness, rather than it being a random experience that “just happens?”

Where does Jesus Dwell?

Looking back in the Old Testament, we have found that every time God showed up in visible form, especially in human form, it was the pre-incarnate Christ. In fact, we were able to determine that the God of the Old Testament who met with Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and others, was none other than the One we address as Jesus!

With that in mind, let’s look back and see where He says He dwells:

When Jacob saw the ladder, or staircase, leading into Heaven, upon which the angels were ascending and descending, he thought that he had somehow stumbled into God’s House, the Gate of Heaven! He named the place “Bethel,” meaning “house of God,” and offered God a rock to dwell in. Does that mean that God chose to actually live in that Rock? Nope. Honestly, that whole story makes me feel embarrassed for Jacob. How naïve does one have to be, to consider it appropriate to approach the eternal God, the creator of all things, material and immaterial, and suggest that He might like to live in this rock?

1st Kings 8:27 says that the entire Creation, including Heaven proper, cannot contain God. How much less a human-built structure? Isaiah 66:1, 2 says, “The Heaven is My throne and the Earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath My hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD:” (we will address the rest of this verse in a moment…)

Acts 7:48 confirms that God does not live in temples made by Humans.

But God has chosen to live in a few places: One such place was the Tabernacle we read about in Exodus 25:8…but it was long gone by the time of Christ. Another was the Temple Solomon built at Jerusalem (2nd Chronicles 7:1,) also long gone, by Jesus’s time but rebuilt twice over. And Jesus still referred to the temple proper (as rebuilt by Herod the Great, as “My Father’s House.” And that one was torn down completely in AD 70, leaving no Temple in Jerusalem. So where does God dwell, then? Exodus 19:9 and 2nd Chronicles 6:1 say that God dwells in thick darkness.

Psalm 99:1 says that God “…sits between the cherubim.”  The cherubim to which it refers were the two golden images of angelic beings, that were situated on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, facing one another over the Mercy Seat, so that their wings were touching in an arch over the seat: And God said He sat there! (By the way, that was the only seat within the Holy of Holies: so, when Hebrews 1:3 says that “when He had by Himself purged our sins He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on High…” Where could he sit? In Revelation 7:17, we see the answer: He is seated in the throne with God the Father. The Mercy seat is His place!”

In Psalm 15:1-5, we are told what kind of person can join Him where He dwells: the psalmists asks, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy Holy Hill?” At some length, then, He describes a righteous man. But Jesus spoke to the Thief on the Cross, and said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise!” How could such a one be acceptable with God? How could he abide in the tabernacle? How could he dwell with a holy God? He was not a “righteous man: he was in the process of being executed for his sins!

As we readbefore, Isaiah 66:2 continues the question of “where does God dwell,” by stating that all the things with which we might build a house were all created by God, and that none are anything special to Him…but then he says, “…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word.” The thief on the Cross satisfied that description! And with that idea, we are getting closer to the answer!

The Answer Jesus Gave

When the two disciples of John asked “Master (Rabbi…a “master” from whom to learn) where dwellest thou?” Jesus gave a simple answer to a simple question: “Come and see!” That has been His continuing invitation, throughout all the ages: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest! Ho, everyone who is thirsty! Come ye to the waters! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price! If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink! Whosever will, let him take of the Water of Life, freely.”

Did those two disciples know who they were dealing with? Nope. Clearly, they did not: but He invited them to come and spend time with Him, without asking their “credentials.” He did not take them back to Psalm 15 and demand to know whether they were “worthy” to abide with Him. He took them at face value, invited them without further questions of any sort, and they went with Him! Furthermore, it says that they saw where He dwelt, and they abode with Him that day!

If you want to see where Jesus dwells, then walk with Him! Just walk with Him! He isn’t demanding that you “jump through hoops” or “run an obstacle course to get to Him:” He isn’t demanding that you “clean yourself up” before you can walk with Him. He will do the cleansing, as needed, and when obstacles come, He will guide us through that trial. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me!

When we walk with Jesus, we find out where He dwells…and, if we are willing, we can abide with Him that day, just as those first two disciples did. Abide with Him! Stay and learn from Him. Find out what sort of God He really is! Bask in His presence; don’t just “pop in and touch base:” stay there!

When Moses went into the tabernacle to receive God’s instruction for the people, he also had to leave, to go tell the people what God said. But Joshua had been there with Moses, and Joshua was not tasked with telling the people what God said, at that point in his life. Later, he also was called as the mouthpiece of God. But at that time, when Moses left to go do the bidding of God, Joshua stayed behind in the tabernacle, alone with God! That relationship was becoming central to who he was. And, it had permanent impact on his ministry, as he turned out to be absolutely faithful in his walk with God. We only see two times in his life when something wasn’t right, and in both cases, it was because he made a “snap decision” without first consulting God. Both were fairly minor, as such things go, and he was never “rebuked” by God for sin: God only corrected his error and told him what to do next. I can’t help believing that those early times, alone with God in the tabernacle, must have shaped the years to come, and resulted in the fruit we see in his life.

In John 15:4, Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, neither can ye except ye abide in me.” Lots of people try to use this passage to teach that a believer can lose their salvation. The passage has nothing to do with salvation: It has everything to do with fruit-bearing! Joshua bore fruit because he had “abided” with God in the tabernacle. The Disciples bore fruit because they had stayed with Jesus and had been shaped by His presence and teaching. They did not do so because they were great students, or because they were clever theologians, or talented individuals, or well-educated. They were none of the above! Jesus had deliberately chosen very average men to be His disciples: what they had in common was faith. Faith is an obedient response to a revealed truth.

Those first two disciples had just two things revealed to them:

  1. Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” and
  2. He invited them to come with Him.

They responded in faith: they took that gentle suggestion by John, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus invited them to “Come and see,” they went…and saw! And they stayed with Him.

Where do We find Our answers?

Each of us has had some level of interaction with Jesus: we call ourselves believers because we have trusted in His sacrifice as full payment for our sins. Romans 3:25 says that it was through “faith in His Blood” that we entered into the relationship initially. Each of us has a history, leading from that initial meeting, and resulting in our being wherever we are now: And Jesus is still inviting us to “Come and See!”

So, how do we do that?

Think back to the meeting between Jesus and those first two disciples: What did it take for them to respond? Obviously, they believed what John had told them, and as Jews, they had already believed that the Messiah was coming. But when Jesus invited them to “Come and See,” what did it take for them to respond?

Can you imagine them having said, “OK, maybe later! We were just going off to play games on the computer!” Or, “Let me check my calendar: I’m pretty sure I could “work you in” on Sunday mornings, usually…unless I’m om vacation….” Or, maybe, “I’m pretty busy, but I will try to make time for you someday soon! Thanks for the invitation!” Those are not appropriate responses to the invitation of Jesus, the Eternal King, to spend time with Him in private!

Those two disciples did not even really understand who Jesus was, but they knew they wanted to know Him, and they understood that it required time with Him! I don’t know what they may have had planned for the rest of the day before he invited them over to His place. The scripture says it was “about the tenth hour.” In other words, about four in the evening. What might they usually have done with their evening? I have no idea; but whatever it was, it was set aside as being of lesser importance: Jesus became their priority, from that day forward. (By the way, we can see, by the next day, at least, they were beginning to have some convictions about His identity: in verse 41, Andrew went and told his brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah!” But regardless of what they did or did not understand, He had become their Priority!

Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves, “Is He my Priority? Or just my “Preference?” Would I just “prefer” to know Him…if it works out that way, and if I can find time? Or is He my priority, and everything else will be set aside as needed, in order to deliberately spend time with Jesus?

When Moses went back to speak to the people the words of God, does it seem strange that Joshua “failed to attend?” Or maybe he arrived late? Joshua may not really have even noticed when Moses left to go back to the camp. He was hearing the Word personally, not second-hand!

When the two disciples stayed with Jesus, was someone else already expecting them elsewhere? (Remember, there were no cellular phones! They couldn’t “call home” and cancel plans.) We are not given any information about their previous plans: but the fact is, whatever they had planned was completely postponed or set aside. They had found the Messiah! He is where they would be finding their answers, and placing their priorities, from that day forward.

How will You Respond?

If you have “Found the Messiah,” and have received Him as your Savior, and have recognized Him as your Lord, your Master, then shouldn’t your priorities have changed, too, just as theirs did? Shouldn’t you be seeking to spend time with Him in the Word and in Prayer, not just talking, but also listening to Him? Shouldn’t we choose, daily, to walk with Him, and see where He dwells? If He has not become your priority, then perhaps you need to go back and ask that first question again: “What am I seeking?” If Jesus isn’t the One you really want, then something is seriously wrong: Something else has taken first place in your life.

Only you can choose to “dethrone” whatever that “something” is, and to reinstate Jesus as your top priority. He still sends us to work every day: He still has us go to bed at a reasonable time so we can function the next day in whatever way He calls us to serve: But the priority has to be Jesus, or we are not walking with Him.

God help us to see clearly where our lives are headed, and to respond as the disciples did, seeking to “See the place where Jesus Dwells,” and learning to “Abide there with Him!”

Lord Jesus, continue to invite us and quicken our hearts to desire to spend time with You alone, and to see our priorities change as a result. Draw us to walk with You daily, continually, and to learn from You, feeding on Your Word. Make us the disciples You have chosen us to be.

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