What are you looking for?" (John 1:38)
This is Day 1 of Lent, the 40 days of preparation leading up to Easter. A quick check of the Wikipedia entry will give you some helpful background. Note that in the Western tradition, Lent starts today with Ash Wednesday and continues until Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Sundays are not counted as part of the forty days because each Sunday is meant to be a mini-Easter remembrance.
In the evangelical wing of the church, we’re never sure what to do about Lent. Mostly we have ignored it. But there is great value in preparing our hearts for big events. And Easter is the ultimate Big Event.
This year we’re focusing on questions, either the questions people asked of Jesus or about Jesus or the questions Jesus himself asked. In reading through the gospels, I have been amazed at how many questions they contain. We can’t begin to cover them all so in these next few weeks leading up to Easter, we will focus on questions that get to some core issues of the spiritual life.
Let’s begin today with a question Jesus asked to two of the earliest disciples.
“What are you looking for?" (John 1:38)
His first question was not about sin or righteousness.
It wasn’t about his own identity. That would come later.
It was not accusatory or hostile.
His first question was an invitation.
I think the question caught the disciples off guard. Jesus had a habit of doing that. He often asked questions not to gather information but to get people to think.
As we start this Lenten journey that will lead us all the way to Easter Sunday, we should ask ourselves the same question: “What am I looking for?"
If you aren’t sure about the answer, that’s okay. Jesus told the first disciples to “come and see” (John 1:39). He says the same to us today. Verse 40 says they spent the day with him. That same invitation is for us too.
Our desires hold great power because they shape our destiny. What do you need that only the Lord can provide?
If we dare to say we are looking for Jesus, he will invite us to come and spend the day with him.
Lord, as we begin this Lenten journey, purify our hearts so that we will not be satisfied with anything less than you. Amen.
What do you plan to “give up” for Lent? Instead of thinking of something outward, why not ask God to do some “heart renovation” between now and Easter? We would all be better off if we gave up our critical spirit, our sharp tongue, our tendency to worry, and our fear of man.
Read Colossians 3:8-14 and think about what you need to “put off” and “put on” as a child of God. Use this passage as your prayer guide for Day 1 of our Lenten journey.