John is a consummate writer, skilled in nuance and allusion. There is an inviting simplicity in his writing, but it is a simplicity that conceals a depth of insight. He’s the master of the “aha” moments.
He does this right away. I would argue it is common for people to look for ways to free ourselves from the humdrum, escape as often as possible into ecstasy, devise ways to live separated from the clamor of traffic and family, associate so far as possible only with people of like mind, and engage in disciplines and ways of dress and speech that set us apart from “the others.” John’s Gospel says…
Here’s how he does it.
He writes a story that picks up features of the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts of creation and presents Jesus as God’s Genesis Word continuing to speak creation into existence. Somewhere along the line, things went wrong and they are in desperate need of fixing. The fixing is all accomplished by speaking - God speaking the new creation into being in the person of Jesus. But Jesus in this story not only speaks the word of God; he IS the Word of God.
Keeping company with Jesus we become insiders to the creation. It is not something “out there” that we can adopt or ignore as we will. We cannot walk away from creation in order to attend to the spiritual life. We are embedded in the creation, we are integral to the creation.
In John’s depiction of Jesus’ encounter with His first disciples, notice a few things. Verse 38 “Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you wan?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi”, where are you staying?” “Come and see” he said.
I find it fascinating that after John writes this powerful introduction about Jesus being the Word and the Word being with God from the beginning of creation, the very first words of Jesus in this Gospel is “What do you want?” As a Pastor, I pose this question often to people I encounter. One would think this fundamental question would yield razor sharp responses. More often than not, however, I receive half-baked thoughts and ambiguous answers. Sometimes it’s happiness, other times it’s finding a spouse and raising a family. Sometimes it’s “I don’t know.”
Author Donald Miller said he was watching the movie Star Wars recently and wondered what made that movie so good. Of course there are lots of reasons. But, he also noticed that at any point in the movie, he could pause the DVD and identify what any main character wanted. No character had a vague ambition. Listen to this, “It made me wonder if the reasons our lives seem so muddled is because we keep walking into scenes in which we, along with the people around us, have no clear idea what we want.”
Here’s the beautiful part.
The second set of words said by Jesus? “Come and see.”