The next day John the Baptist was standing outdoors with two of his disciples, and I walked by. “Look!” he exclaimed. “There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s disciples heard him say that, they left him and came to me.
I turned and saw that they were following me, so I asked, “What do you want?”
“Rabbi,” they said (the word means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
I answered, “Come along and you will see.”
(from Jesus, in His Own Words, by Robert H. Mounce)
Sometimes, we are desperate to know what Jesus is up to and what it is we are supposed to do. We want to know where things are going, and we want to know how to get there. We ask God for these kinds of answers all the time – about personal choices, about the way out of a crisis we are facing, etc.
John’s followers had been looking for the Messiah. John preached Christ, and was preparing the way for Him, and his followers must have had an intense amount of expectation of what this would have looked like. So when they asked “where are you staying?” it signified that they were looking for the path, the goal, the direction. They also had an expectation of the kind of dwelling the Lord had – they probably figured it would be impressive, and that it would represent power and authority.
It’s also like the rich man that said, “what else must I do?” We want specifics from God. We want a list of steps to take. We want to know how things will turn out. And most of the time, we want to know the steps we need to take to get there.
But Jesus rarely provides the kinds of answers we’re looking for. He says, “Come along and you will see.” He didn’t invalidate their desire at all – neither their desire to be where He was going, nor their desire to know more about Him. But they had the wrong question. The question isn’t, “How will this turn out?” or “What must I do?” In fact, there really doesn’t need to be much of a question, at all. The response to seeing Christ, to wanting to see more of Him and experience His fullness, is simply to go along with Him. If we dwell in His presence, we will go where He is going. We will experience His power and grace in ways far beyond and far different from our expectations.
Yet, remember what He told His disciples – “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23, NASB) The disciples didn’t know of the cross as an instrument of redemption. They knew of the cross as a death sentence. As an instrument of torture for the worst criminals. Christ tells us that following Him – committing our lives to Him and seeking after Him daily – will daily lead us directly through death.
And what we find in those moments of death is more of Him.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:4-6, NASB)
He is with us in those times of death, and He anoints us even in the moments of our greatest struggles and our darkest places.
But we do not always know the exact destination, and He will not tell us the path for us to get there on our own. He wants us to follow Him there – and in the following, we can be sure that He is with us on the journey. What an amazing Lord, to treat us so gently, and to provide such a measure of Himself – His comfort and strength – in times of our greatest suffering, all so that we will see Him more clearly!