A Healthy Curiosity
John 1:35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
John the Baptist was out with two of his disciples when he saw Jesus walk by. His comment about Jesus made his two disciples curious so, they began to follow Jesus. Can you imagine how they must have felt when Jesus turned around and confronted them? Here we find the very first words of Jesus as recorded by John. Jesus is responding to the curiosity of the two men and so he enquires of them, “What are you looking for?” They don’t answer that question directly but seek out an opportunity to spend time with Jesus and question him.
They may have been looking for the Messiah, or they may not have been quite sure about the teachings of this man, but they seemed to want to have their questions answered. By asking him where he was staying they were looking for an invitation to spend time talking to him in private. Jesus gained their trust by showing hospitality, not just pointing out where he was staying, but taking them with him.
The curiosity of these two revealed their readiness to learn. They were willing to chase after something which they thought may be important to them and their lives. Some might have expected Jesus to rebuff their curiosity, but he did not, and instead extended an invitation to his home, to get to know him more. Their healthy curiosity was met with warmth by the Messiah, revealing that those who seek him will find him.
As a child having a healthy curiosity was not always met with acceptance. I can still hear my mother saying, “you know what curiosity did to the cat, don’t you?” (In case you don’t know “curiosity killed the cat.) Somehow we have come to equate curiosity with danger and living in a litigious and safety-proofing world we are almost taught to avoid curiosity. The sad part of all of this is that curiosity is normal to human nature and is vital to survival. Without a healthy curiosity we will be unwilling to explore new horizons, take chances, or reach out to make a difference in this world. Jesus certainly did not live a life of safety, but put himself out there to save the world. Even Jesus, as a young child revealed his curiosity when he remained in the temple, just so he could learn more. He got in trouble, but he didn’t allow that to stifle his curiosity or desire to learn more about his Father.
If we stifle curiosity, and try to create an environment in which to be “safe” we may actually sheltering people from God. It requires a healthy curiosity to step out in faith and follow Jesus. This means that we ask questions — ones which don’t always make people feel comfortable. But if we don’t allow the space for questioning, then we are telling people that you are not allowed to be curious and we expect them to toe the company line.
I can imagine that those disciples asked Jesus some pretty tough questions that night. Instead of frustration on his part, we can surmise that he prepared them dinner, conversed with them and gave them space to stay overnight. We know that by the next morning he seems to have satisfied their curiosity because they leave the house devoted followers of Christ, ready to call others to his side.
Fostering an environment of healthy curiosity is not always pleasant and takes intentional action on the part of Jesus’ disciples. Wrestling with the tough questions of the day can be a healthy way of finding Jesus. We need to be comfortable with allowing curiosity to develop, providing direction that may lead toward the eternal.
Lord, may the curiosity that you place within me lead me to the deeper questions that result in knowing you. Amen.