In law school I became very familiar with the Socratic method of teaching. Rather than doling out answers, our professors asked questions in a way that allowed us to formulate substantive conclusions on our own. When I first began reading the Bible I quickly realized this same methodology was one of Jesus’ primary methods of teaching. He asked questions not only of His disciples, but of those who were hostile to His teaching. He never forced an answer on them, but invited them to reason. Perhaps He asks these questions of us today. How would I answer them? Over the next few weeks, I will look at a few.
In the first chapter of John’s Gospel we see John’s first mention of the disciples. Peter and his brother, Andrew, hear John the Baptist exclaim as Jesus walks by, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Immediately they begin to follow Jesus. But Jesus turns and asks, “What are you seeking?” Not “who,” but “what.” Why does Jesus ask them this?
We need to understand Jesus’ question. Apparently He wants them to articulate and acknowledge the purpose that motivated them to drop everything and follow Him. Are they seeking miracles? Popularity? Political power? Are they seeking Jesus to satisfy their personal needs? Are they seeking companionship with the other followers? Is their decision to follow based on emotion—are they merely caught up in the moment? Why do I follow Jesus? What am I seeking?
The disciples respond with their own question, “Rabbi (which means Teacher), where are you staying?” At first glance this does not seem to respond to the question. But, in reality, it is the perfect answer. They are saying--we want to abide with you. We want to be in your presence. We want to learn from you. And then, and only then, does Jesus say, “Come and you will see.”