Leaving John the Baptist

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY 16th April 2020
Reading: John 1:35-42 – Jesus’ first disciples.

In today’s text, we hear about two of John’s disciples and their decision to follow Jesus. John once again declares that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and as this pair of John’s disciples hear this, they leave him at the banks of the Jordan river and follow Jesus, who turns towards the disciples and asks them: What do you want?

It sounds almost as if the disciples are reluctant to ask the question they probably wanted to ask: Can we follow you? Will you allow us to learn from you? Instead they ask “Where are you staying?” Where are you staying so that we can perhaps come back at a later time if now is not a good time, because we know you must be a busy man and we don’t want to take up too much of your time. It saves them from losing face and from being rejected. It saves Jesus from having to say no.

I spoke to a friend once who had trouble praying. It wasn’t that she had nothing she wanted to say. Nor was it a lack of words to express what was on her heart. It was the idea that God was too busy and that somehow, her prayers would take up ‘bandwidth’ and get in the way of other, more important prayers that God needed to hear, so she felt it was best if she stuck to ‘a Tweet a day’, a post-it note slipped under the door to God’s office to not disturb Him as He dealt with ‘the real issues’. And there are enough ‘real issues’ at the moment, that’s for sure.

But there is nothing aloof about Jesus’ reply to the two disciples. He doesn’t bring out a full diary to schedule them in sometime in the next fortnight for half an hour. Instead He invites them to come and see. As the King James Versions says in v39: “They came and saw where He dwelt and abode with Him that day”. Jesus invites them in and spends the day with them.

I wonder what you would do if you had a whole day with Jesus? What would you show Him? What would you like Him to show you? What would you ask? What would you like to do together with Jesus – watch the sunset? Walk the dog? Paint the fence? Talk about memories? About future plans? And I wonder once everything is said and done how would it feel to just sit there with Jesus, the way you can sometimes do with your spouse or a close friend? Present in the same space, aware of each other, comfortable and at peace, without an agenda.

God has got time for you. The door is open, the kettle is on and there is nothing more important to Jesus than to have a real, warm and genuine relationship with you whether what you want to share with Him fits on a post-it note or all the books in the world would not have room for your concerns, chatter and thoughts.

Sometimes, we’re the ones who don’t have time, sometimes for very legitimate reasons too. But today’s passage tells us that now and again, in order to be with Jesus, we have to leave John the Baptist behind. There was nothing wrong with John the Baptist and he had a very important role to play in God’s plan. However, when the time came for the disciples to spend time with Jesus, they let go of John the Baptist and moved on. There’s nothing wrong with work and To Do lists. There’s nothing wrong with Netflix, Facebook and WhatsApp. There’s nothing wrong with church and prayer meetings. But sometimes it is good to just spend a day with Jesus. Abiding. Hanging out.

Sometimes, as for the disciples, that day turns into years as we gradually get to know and trust Him. I would encourage you to come and see where Jesus dwells. I’d encourage you to abide. He is never too busy to spend quality time with you. Why not “come and see for yourself”? Time spent alone with Jesus spills over into our busier days and at the very least, gives us an anchor of peace to return to. Come and see!

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