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Exploring God’s Address

Sermon delivered by Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga., at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga., on Feb. 24, 2009.

John 1:29-42

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one of whom I said, ˜After me comes someone who ranks ahead of me because that one was before me.’ I myself did not know who it was; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that the one who was to come might be revealed to Israel. And John testified, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Jesus. I myself did not know who it was, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ˜The person on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Child of God.

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and looking at Jesus walking by, he exclaimed, Look, here is the Lamb of God! The two disciples heard John say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, What are you looking for? They said, Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are you staying? He said to them, Come and see. They came and saw where Jesus was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (which is translated Anointed). Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated Peter). (John 1:29-42 NRSV)

Great questions in this encounter. What are you looking for? Where are you staying?

Excellent directive: Come and see.

Equally good statement: They came and saw where Jesus was staying.

I don’t know where to focus on a text like this. I want to explore all the questions. What are you looking for is a really good one. What are YOU looking for? Love? Knowledge? Security? Meaning? All of the above, surely. Probably also excitement, adventure. Apparently Andrew had been looking for these things and hoping to find them in something John the Baptist had to offer. Without question, Andrew had been looking for the one who was to come from God. Andrew was looking for God. For God to come, for God to do something, for God to tell him what to do.

I’m a lot like Andrew. Most of us are. Listen to Scott Peck, In Search of Stones (p. 29): For years I have known that my only REAL romance is that with God. I want to be in His or Her arms where I belong, and I hope I shall be when I die. But I am not ready to go home yet, and God does not come to me often. Certainly never on demand. She has Her own schedule. Her timing is not my timing, and I must content myself with that. I am not so good at being content, however, that I do not look forward to substitutes, even if they be but shadows of the real thing, even if I know I am being foolish.

If you are looking for God, substitutes won’t do. I ought to know, I’ve tried plenty of them. (My calling and attempt to substitute it with the Air Force.) I want to be in the arms of God where I belong, and no substitute will do. But probably we don’t really know that without exploring.

I really like that other question in our text, the one Andrew asks Jesus: Where are you staying? Lot of implications in that question, but I love Jesus’ kind of catty response: Come and see.

An invitation to explore. They took him up on it. They came and saw. It made quite an impression. We’re even told what time of day it was when it all got started, 4:00 PM, and they stayed with him the rest of the day. Then Andrew went straight to his brother, Simon, and said, We’ve found what we’re looking for.

When they went to where he was staying, they found what they were looking for.

WHEN THEY WENT TO WHERE JESUS WAS STAYING, THEY FOUND WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR.

Clearly, John, the author of this gospel, is telling us that if we will spend some time at Jesus’ address “ if we’ll explore where Jesus stays and what Jesus is doing “ we’ll find what we’re looking for “ if what we’re looking for is God. And the most beautiful discovery we’ll make is that God is looking for us.

One thing is for sure: Love, knowledge, meaning, adventure “ it’s all tied together, it’s concentrated in the place where Jesus likes to stay, and you’re welcome and invited to explore it with him. Next time God asks, What are you looking for? you find out where God is staying, and go stay there a while and see what happens.