The Gospel reading is a whole sequence of people telling each other they have seen Jesus and who they think Jesus is. John tells two of his disciples that Jesus is “the Lamb of God,” and what did they do? They run off after Jesus. They want to see for themselves. They catch up and have an odd conversation with Jesus, and then Andrew runs off and finds his brother Peter and brings him to meet Jesus too. When Jesus meets Peter, Jesus gives him a new name, “Rock.” Peter will do so much telling that he’ll be a foundation on which the church will be built. To read this story is to get caught up in the cycle of listening, telling, and re-telling that is the story of discipleship.
The question is Why are stories of meeting this man Jesus told again and again? There are at least two answers. One is the answer in Isaiah. God wants the story of salvation told and calls people to tell it, calls them before they are born. That is the prophet Isaiah’s own story and Jeremiah’s too.
For the other answer we have to go back to the middle of what we heard today in John, to the point where two men, who have no names yet, are running after a man on the street, pointed out by someone else.
“What are you looking for?” Jesus asks the two disciples. Now, “What are you looking for?” is a fairly strange question when you think about it. The logical question would be, “What do you want?” Maybe this isn’t a story about what people want. Twice John says the Spirit came to Jesus and remained. The two disciples asked, “Where are you staying?” They go and see “where he was staying and they stayed with him that day.”
Remain. Remain. Stay. Stay. Stay.
Could this story be telling us something the disciples don’t know yet themselves? What people are looking for is not information, answers to questions such as “Who is Jesus?” or “Is this the one?” Or “Am I right about this church business?” Not even the answer to the question of why stories of meeting this man have captured the human heart for generations.
What we are all looking for without even knowing it is a place to stay, a place to remain always. Jesus is that place, a person who is himself a home, a place to belong, a whole way of life. Jesus knows that what the disciples really want is a place to belong. Whatever he sees on the faces of these two men panting in front of him after running down the street, whatever he sees, what he says to them is just right and wonderfully inviting: “Come and see.” They do go with him. They end up staying, and his story becomes their way of life.
“What are you looking for?” says Jesus to people who were told by someone else where he could be found. “Come and see,” he said to people who wondered if they had a place in his story. The thing that moves people from one question to the other, from “What are you looking for?” to “Come and see” is the story we have been called to tell. It’s the only story we have to tell, the story of our home, the place from which we draw hope and strength and power. That place is a person, and the best way to tell his story-perhaps the only way-is with our lives.