What Does John 1:38 Mean?

And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?"

John 1:38(NASB)
Picture courtesy of Good News Productions Int.

Verse of the Day

On two consecutive days, we read that John the Baptist pointed people to Jesus with the words, "Behold the Lamb of God.." The first time he added the phrase, "Who takes away the sin of the world." On the second occasion, he said it directly to two of his own disciples. John had received confirmation from above, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, for at His baptism, he heard the voice of God the Father testifying of Jesus, and saw the Holy Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove, and resting upon Him.

These two men (Andrew and John) had become disciples of John the Baptist. They had responded to his fiery call to repent and be baptised. They had heard him preaching of the coming Messiah and already knew about Jesus, Who like them, had been following John from the start of his ministry. They were probably surprised to discover that one of John's own disciples was now being heralded as the Lamb of God and Israel's promised Messiah.

John had already born witness that someone in their company was much greater than he. He even testified that he was not worthy to untie the latchet of His shoe, for had been given confirmation from God that Jesus was the Christ. It was as John was standing with the two disciples that he again pointed them to the Lamb of God and the men were so curious that they left the Baptist and started to follow Jesus at a distance.

They did not question John about the Lord Jesus, even though he had given such a stunning testimony about Him. Instead, they immediately left him and started to follow Jesus. The Lord knew that He was being followed, "And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, 'What do you seek?' They said to Him, 'Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?'"

On the surface, it is a logical and obvious question to ask someone who is following you, but there is a much deep meaning behind His question. Jesus wanted to know what they were seeking. He needed to know if they were searching for the way, the truth, and the life, or if they had some superficial motive in latching on to Him.

Christ's question to these two men is the same challenging question that is put to every one of us. Are we wanting to know the most important answer in life about the Person and Work of Jesus or are we simply giving Him a cursory glance before moving on to the next interesting passer-by.

Jesus knew what was in their hearts, but He wanted these two men to consider the motive behind their action. Were they following Him out of idle curiosity or did they understand that He was the anointed Lamb of God, Who had come from His Father in heaven, to take away the sin of the world. Did they acknowledge Him as the incarnate Word of God, or were they simply looking for a next thrilling exploit, following their time with John.

It seems that the two did not know exactly what they were seeking, but they realised that the answer was in the Man, Whom John had called the Lamb of God, and so they replied with a question, that would ensure that a conversation with Jesus ensued. They said to Him, "Rabbi, where are You staying?" - They wanted to know where He was abiding. They did not want to lose sight of the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.

Andrew and John made it clear that they had already started to transfer their loyalty from John the Baptist to the Lord Jesus, by calling Him Rabbi - or Teacher. They knew in their heart, that Jesus held the answers to all of life's questions and their simple reply demonstrated that they needed Him to answer many more issues that were on their hearts.

Like many today Andrew and John did not know what they were looking for but they found their answers in Jesus, and they responded by transferring their allegiance from John to Jesus. Their wise decision resulted in the Lord summoning both of them to "Follow Me." Jesus is willing to invite anyone and everyone who truly desires to know Him, to come and follow Him, and the more we get to know Him, the more we stand in awe of Who He is and what He has done.

My Prayer

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, thank You that whosoever will, may follow Jesus and find the answer to every question they have, in Him. Thank You that Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, and He is the Lamb on the throne Who has secured our redemption through His sacrificial work on the Cross. Thank You for the example of John the Baptist who pointed people to Jesus and for the two disciples that discovered he held the answer to every aching question they had. May I not only follow Jesus but point others to Him - in Whom are the words of eternal life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN. 

Picture courtesy of Good News Productions Int.

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