Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 2
True Meaning of Life
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 1:35-51
Four centuries before the birth of Christ, Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living." Tragically, almost two and a half millennia have passed and still few will examine life for its true meaning. As Henry David Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quite desperation."
Now this is not to say that there is not a lot of outward activity professedly seeking for the meaning to life. From philosopher to philanthropist, recluse to rake, many claim to be examining their lives. But the sad result in some cases is nothing more than a self-centered, self-willed life that professes to have found its "own thing" to do.
Opponents of true Christianity have often claimed that "blind faith" is the worst example of the unexamined life. With self-assuring cynicism they point to the Christian who follows the teachings of the Bible and label him unthinking, out of date, senseless. But does the true Christian deserve such titles? Is he living an unexamined life?
"...they point to the Christian and label him... unthinking."
Picture the scene that unfolds before us in John 1:35-51. John the Baptist had stood the previous day and pointed men to the Lamb of God, the bearer away of the sin of the world. Eloquent testimony was given by the Baptist to Christ's preeminence (v. 30), eternity (v. 30), and diety (v. 34). The next day John is seen with two of his disciples and again points to Christ while pronouncing: "Behold the Lamb of God" (v. 36). The two disciples forsake their mentor, John, for the Word, the forerunner of the Sovereign. They now follow Christ.
But mindless, aimless following was never purposed by God. The Lord Jesus turned and asked them "What seek ye?" Herein lies the essence of the examined life.
"What seek ye?" is a question with as much relevance to twentieth century man as when first posed to John and Andrew, Galilean fishermen of the first century. The moral courage and honesty needed to ask and answer such a question are no common commodities. Selfishness, materialism, hedonism, and a host of other "isms" have obscured life's values and ultimate purpose.
"mindless following was never purposed by God...
ultimate purpose...is...relationship with the Son of God."
The response of John and Andrew was simple yet revealing: "Master, where dwellest thou." They recognized that the ultimate purpose for which each man has been created is a personnal relationship with the Son of God. Under the Old Covenant Jehovah had directed His people Israel to a place, His dwelling center in Jerusalem. Under the New Covenant, a person supersedes all places. True satisfaction in life can only be found in Christ. Many substitutes try to approximate it, but reality is known by those who have found Him.
This relationship begins, not in the ritual of religion, but by the look of a sin burdened soul to the Lamb of God bearing away the sin of the world (v. 24). It leads to a changed life (v. 42), a desire to spread the reality of God's good news to others (v. 41, 45), and to a new perspective of the world and the coming One (v. 50-51).
It is in the context of this redemptive relationship with Lord Jesus Christ that man finds the true meaning of life.