John 1:35-36 – What Do You Want with Jesus?

When John declares Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” two of his disciples follow Jesus (John 1:35-39). This is the third day in John 1. In John’s gospel significant events take place on the “third day.” In this case, John the Baptist publicly identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.

The Apostle AndrewThe first disciple to follow Jesus is Andrew. The other gospels tell us nothing about Andrew, but in the Gospel of John he figures significantly in several stories. In each story, Andrew brings someone or something to Jesus. The relative silence about Andrew led to the development of several legendary stories about Andrew’s ministry. According to Dennis MacDonald, the apocryphal Acts of Andrew was “a lengthy, verbose expansion on the slight bit of scripture devoted to Andrew. In it Andrew’s missionary efforts took him to Achaia, but had to leave in order to save Mattias from cannibals. It appears that the writer of the Apocryphal work was attempting to write some kind of Christian Odyssey” (“Andrew” in ABD 1:242-243). The other disciple may be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in the second half of the gospel, although John’s gospel has a number of unnamed disciples so it is not necessarily important that this unnamed disciple is the Beloved Disciple.

John recommends Jesus to his own disciples as a new teacher. This indicates the superiority of Jesus: John is saying he has taught his disciples all he can, they are ready to move on to a superior teacher.

The first words of Jesus in the gospel are “what do you want?” These may be programmatic in the gospel. Köstenberger (John, 74) points out that the gospel writer has a tendency to use double entendre to make several points at once. On the surface, Jesus is responding to these two disciples who have followed him. But on the level of the whole gospel, the question asks the reader “what do you want” with Jesus?

In the Gospel of John people frequently approach Jesus and want something from him, but it is not necessarily what he came to give! The woman at the well asks for water, but Jesus is offering living water; the people in the wilderness want bread, Jesus is offering the Bread of Life.

This question ought to be on our minds whenever we read John’s gospel. What is it we want with this Jesus? Salvation, with no real responsibility? A warm feeling of belonging with no real commitment? Or do we want to enter into a serious relationship with God as his child, ready to be a disciple of Jesus no matter where that takes us?

24 thoughts on “John 1:35-36 – What Do You Want with Jesus?

  1. To answer the questions above, I feel as though we should want a genuine relationship with Jesus. There are people in the world who only accept Jesus into their hearts for their own selfish reason; kind of like taking him in and out of the box when needed. For example Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), would go to Jesus in the night because he was a religious leader and didn’t want anyone to know. Just like the women at the well Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he can be reborn and be filled with the Spirit. Unlike the Nicodemus, the women at the well goes on to tell about the good news. “Andrew brings someone or something to Jesus” (Long, para 2), this is what we should do, is bring someone to Jesus at all costs. Not only should we bring them to Jesus, we should follow him as well and be ready to give all we have for him.

    • Nice Job Ana I love how you used the story of Nicodemus, so true that Nicodemus was scared of what people thought of him, I find that I can verry easily judge Nicodemus for what he did wrong, but how often can I get around friends, even good Christan friends at grace, how often does my talk represent the most high God. I have to say not as often as I would like.
      Great post!!

  2. A specific worship song came to mind when reading this blog post. The song is called “Nothing Else” and it’s by Cody Carnes. The song talks about how being in the presence of Jesus is 100% enough for anyone to be satisfied. A couple specific lines that came to mind were, “Jesus, You don’t owe me anything…” and “I just want to sit here at your feet…”. And while these lyrics are true and super humbling, as a worship leader, I often examine lyrics like this and wonder – are we really singing this in faith? I know that when I sing songs to the Lord, I often feel a lot of peace – am I really singing this song out of selfishness to get that feeling of euphoric peace that nothing in this world can provide?

    Being a follower of Christ is also accepting the nitty gritty. It is signing up for hard conversations, difficult boundaries, disagreements, persecution, etc. When we sing/profess that surrendering totally to Jesus is all we want, do we actually feel the full weight of that commitment?

    Matthew 4 tells us the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to follow him. Jesus tells them that He will make them fishers of men and the Bible tells us that Peter and Andrew IMMEDIATELY drop their nets to follow Jesus. I often ask and examine myself: would I do the same; and, do I encourage people in my ministry to do the same? What is it I want with Jesus? I want to learn from Him about how to best serve and love others in this world, and about how to lay myself to rest so that everything I do, I do for Him and the spread of His Word.

  3. In all honesty, I am a little convicted as I think about what it is that I want with Jesus. Some days I treat Jesus like he is more of an employer than a savior and friend. It’s so easy to forget what Jesus actually came to provide for us in our daily lives. Jesus came so that we could have a real relationship with Him and stop worrying about religion. I can easily get wrapped up in acting upon what I think God wants from me rather than just being the child of God He created me to be.

    I believe that in addition to asking ourselves what we want with God, it is important to ask what we want from God. By asking ourselves what we what with Jesus and what we truly expect from Him, it gives us perspective into what our relationship looks like with Him and what needs improvement within it. As I sit down and answer both of these questions with an honest heart, I sometimes find that the answers I want to give to God to please Him, do not match my heart. While finding that out about myself is not easy, it puts my heart back into a posture of kneeling before God and asking for Him to realign my desires and restore my relationship with Him.

    • great post Mal, I must admit that I as well felt pretty convicted when reading this. I so often make Jesus what I want Him to be and when I see that I am doing it I need to cut it out and say I don’t need that, I need Jesus to be my savior, not just my employer like you said.
      great post.

  4. I am still curious how John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Messiah, considering he was publicly identifying Jesus as the Messiah. John recognized that Jesus was above him and he encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus as their new teacher, one that was superior to himself. Once the disciples begin following Jesus, Jesus asks them ‘what do you want?’ ‘What do you want [with Jesus]?’ is a question that you can ask anyone at any point of their faith journey and the answer could change depending on where they are in their journey. Figuring out the answer to that question can be difficult or very easy depending on the person. Especially in today’s world, there could be multiple valid answers. I too thought of a worship song, but I had never known what the song’s actual name was, I had just remembered singing it in chapel and church. (Thank you, Al, for putting what it is actually called.) “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes is a great song that puts what we could be feeling into words. It also keys in on that moment that many Christ followers make the whole-hearted decision to follow Christ. Following Christ can be hard for some but coming to an understanding that we do not owe Christ anything for his love is an amazing feeling that we seem to forget at times. I hope to answer the question of ‘what is it that I want with Jesus?’ throughout my reading of the Gospel of John and the Bible.

  5. Wow, I love the point that you concluded with. Do we want Jesus to mean what we want him to mean, which then can mean anything we want, or do we really want Jesus as our leader, who can convict us and guide us in the way He wants us to go? This is something that I find in some people today. People don’t really want a real change in behavior they are just looking for God, possibly because it is cool, or it is the in thing to do, or possibly they really do want answers just not enough to cause a change in behavior. This is just one reason that it is so important to look to scripture for guidance, and not just scripture but fellow brothers in the faith. To acknowledge that there are things in our life we may need to change. We need to remember that we do not breath truth, we are not the one who died on the cross, we are the one who needs to be looking at scripture, and in this case John with the upmost humility, and always is asking the question, how can I Get better to aluminate glorify God better, I must decrees, so God will be increased

  6. This blog post was a very eye-opening post to read and also to think about. For starters I never knew that Andrew was the first called disciple in the book of John. While reading the book I guess I never picked that up because reading the other gospels I figured it must’ve been the same story. But going from there the questions raised really made me think about Jesus and why we follow him. Is it just for us to get something out of it? Such as salvation, we believe in Jesus because he is our way out of hell. Or do we chase after him because we want to live a life the same way he did and be a light into this fallen broken world. Mathew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The ending of this article really pushes us to make a decision. Following Christ is an all-in commitment. The question asks, are we will to follow Christ no matter what he has planned for us. This is something to push us and really make a decision with what a relationship should look like. God is all in for us and loves us abundantly. Why don’t we love him the same?

  7. I was reared in a Christian environment for the most part, and so my mind is full of popular Christian antidotes and phrases. This has, unfortunately, had a negative impact on the way I view the solemnity and gravity of salvation. The reality is, no matter how developed I believe my theology is in the department of soteriology in an intellectual sense, my heart still has a very shallow view of it. Only until recently, I believed that if someone merely uttered a faint prayer and claimed to believe in the main tenants of Christianity, they were saved, and I did not allow for the possibility that some people may not fully understand. Throughout life, I have said many lofty things that contained some kernel of truth–even though I did not know or understand it myself. As with the disciples in the first chapter of John, even though almost all of them declared faith in Jesus, their heart was still not totally convinced–and we see the evidence of this throughout the book. As Kostenberger refers to in his book, the disciples, while not deliberately trying to deceive Jesus, were simply misunderstood. So now when I hear that somebody is converted–and even assessing my own claims about Jesus–I make sure that I have a full understanding and see the appropriate fruit.

    • hey Paul. I liked how honest you were with your views and how you came to understand salvation the way that you do. I like how you put in there that the disciples truly misunderstood what Jesus was talking about too. and I believe that none of us here on earth know much about it. we have your thinking, guess and beliefs but no one truly knows.

  8. Oh my goodness! I love this question!
    All I want is to be His bestest friend! I have been in a relationship with Jesus for six years now and it has only gotten better!
    I love how we have complete access to talk to Him whenever we want and how He truly does respond!
    In John 15:15, Jesus is talking to His disciples and He explains to them how they are no longer His servants,
    but they are now His friends!
    We are not in a relationship with Jesus, to just do what He says, so that we get into heaven. But rather,
    we get to be His best friend! We get to be in a relationship that only grows deeper with time.
    My prayer, is that we continue to cultivate this relationship with Him.
    We can do this by doing what Holy Spirit says to do. He knows best 🙂
    Whether that is spending so quiet time alone with Him, going to the park and praying, dancing in your room, etc.
    Whatever that may be, Jesus wants to do it with us and the more we follow His voice, the deeper in love with Him we go!

  9. I think far too often we go through the motions in the Church we become hung up on doing all the right things instead of just focusing on our relationship with Jesus Christ. All I want is to love him more and more each and everyday, now does that mean I am perfect? Far from it, I still make mistakes every single day but the goal is to strive to be more like Christ with all of my heart. I don’t want to live my life stuck in the patterns, there is no fulfillment in that. The only fulfillment we can ever find is in Christ Jesus. Relationships take work and our relationship with Christ is no exception. We have to want it and make time for it. If Jesus truly is the most important thing in our lives than we need to live that out. Now I am not saying I am there yet but I think as Christians we are all a work in progress, with trying to grow closer to Christ every single day! And that is how I try to live my life, in devotion to him , loving God and loving others!

  10. What do you want with Jesus?

    When it comes to the book of John, I want to know who Jesus really is. Why did He willingly go on the cross for us, what was His ministry, and what made Him so significant? When it comes to us as Christians to get these answers we do not have to look very far into John. Since it is a completely different gospel than the other 3, the authors wrote this book so well. In the beginning of John, we read about the beginning, where the Word became flesh, and then later on we can read about the flesh. Every last bit of John helps me understand who Jesus was, and His personalities. Even when we have such strong evidence like this, we do tend to ask the question, what can I get from you Jesus? Will I receive better rewards by simply asking you for things?

  11. I guess if I am speaking from my current state, I how Jesus was so calm and relaxed when he knew he was put on this earth to die? For me faith is such a dense term, that sometimes I cannot wrap my head around the fact that Jesus was the living, breathing definition of what faith was. As humans, and Christians, we tend to rate how strong we are by how strong our faith is, or our walk with Christ. When we go through life and experience struggles and trials, we tend to have our faith broken and beaten. This was not the case for Jesus, and throughout the Gospels we see clearly that Jesus was obviously perfect, which is hard for us to imagine as humans. He was the living definition of a perfect walk with God, because he and the Father are one. It just really makes me think about Jesus’ state of mind. You’d think because he was perfectly man and God that he would feel emotions and be scared of dying. I guess what I want is how to know when to be afraid and when not to be.

  12. What do we want Jesus, this is a simple question with a very complex answer. Anyone who understands who and what Jesus has done through the sacrifice on the cross, should throw themselves at his feet, confess, repent and be saved, however in this day and age where you want to blame the things of the person and something else is always to blame, accountability, responsibility are almost swearwords in society. The idea that we must take ownership of our sin, that I must confess to God that I have wronged him, that I picked up the hammer and nailed him to the cross. I picked up the spirit and pierced his side. Until we as Christians take seriously the onerous duty of confession and repentance. Repentance being to turn away from sin to have a life change not. I am sorry God for that bad thing I have done, and I will not do it anymore, and you do not do it again, but a transformational life change. I see the serious relationship with God as being his child, adopted into his family. A novel concept one in which most churches preach at the idea, but do not take seriously discipling people and helping people read their lives of sin. Furthermore, if truly and deeply cared for Christ. We would be telling every living breathing person on the planet who Christ is and what they have done for us. According to the Joshua project there are approximately 7.67 billion people on the planet and approximately 3.19 billion people have never heard the gospel is 41.6% of the population planet Earth who do not know who Christ is and have no idea what he has done for them and how they can obtain salvation through his sacrifice. What you want with Christ. What we should want of Christ is a deeply intimate and personal relationship and to foster that same relationship in others to disciple them and help them to know intimately the Savior Jesus Christ. Digressing from my above statements. I do think Dr. Long tells an interesting story we all should take as a cautionary tale, about the apocryphal acts of Andrew and how we should guard ourselves against false teachings.

  13. These are some great thoughts and some new perspectives here! The first thing that came to my mind regarding “What do you want?” is, are you ready to break the norm? Jesus came to break the norm. In temples, cities, communities, families, and anything and everything you can think of, Jesus came to change perspectives. I love how this post mentioned the woman at the well. Not only did Jesus break the norm with the water, but he definitely broke the norm as he talked to the samaritan woman. Samaritans were considered less than, so for a Jew (especially a man) to be talking to a samaritan woman was not common. Jesus broke the norm even more as he told the woman to go and testify to the city! What!? This woman was not one to go around chatting with her neighbors. Everyone knew she had a reputation and, if I was in her shoes, I wouldn’t want to show my face either. Therefore, the confidence that Jesus gave this woman was completely out of the norm, and that is why I believe people listened to her. So, asking ourselves the question, “What do we want with Jesus” also includes the question “are we ready to break out of the norm?”.

  14. These types of questions I think about all the time when I evaluate my own life and watching other believers live. Why do we pound salvation into people and not carry through the aspect of discipleship? Yes, evangelism is the very first step and is crucial, but discipleship is for a lifetime. When we accept Christ into our lives, we dedicate ourselves to the work of the Lord, and that is an everyday commitment. Waking up each day asking the Lord, what’s my purpose here today? What do you want to help me accomplish for your kingdom? And that leads me to the point of, are we actually committed? It’s like a marriage. You would sacrifice yourself for your significant other because that’s how much you love them. It is the same with Christ, but should be even more! Christ died the ultimate sacrifice to give us a chance at an eternal life and the least we can do is dedicate our lives to serving him and sharing his love, but with that comes sacrifice. He is going to put us in uncomfortable situations sometimes, he’s going to challenge us to expand our comfort zone, and the question is, are we ok with that? Are we willing to be stretched, to be used to expand his great kingdom because we love him and want a deep, authentic relationship with him?

  15. Most people, I think, come to Jesus as either a way to escape from Hell or as an easy way to overcome the guilt of their sin and fix their out of control behavior. Still others wish to obtain Heaven (I think without fully understanding what Heaven is like other than that it’s “the good place”). However, nearly every time eternal life is mentioned it comes with the challenge of obedience. Simply by accepting Christ as Messiah and God and believing on Him for Salvation we have taken a step in obedience to God, but the challenge seems to be more than that. John the Baptist says in John 3:36 that “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” These are tough words to swallow for anyone who has accepted Salvation and willfully continues in habitual sin. However, the natural outcome of the recognition of what Christ has done for us is love. In fact, love for God is commanded (Matthew 22:37). Flowing from that is a love for others (Matthew 22:39).
    How do we express that we have love for Christ? He Himself declared that is through obedience (John 14:15). Christ came to establish a spiritual kingdom. How can we be a citizen if we break that kingdom’s laws? Christ is the head. If we reject the Head’s instructions, can we really be counted as a member of the body? If you take someone to be a friend and then continuously behave in a way that that friend hates, then how can you claim to love them? As Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

  16. In John 1:35-36 John the Baptist sees Jesus and calls Him the lamb of God. After his declaring, two of John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus. At one point John even recommends Jesus as a new, superior teacher to his disciples. Throughout the book of John people approach Jesus with something they want. For example, the woman at the well in John 4. The woman is drawing water to fulfill the physical need of physical water. Jesus tells her about “living water” and that if she had this “living water” she would never have to thirst again. She asks Jesus to give her this “living water” so that she will no longer be thirsty or have to draw water again. What she did not realize, was that this “living water” was the Holy Spirit. Jesus repeatedly uses the physical to explain the spiritual (ESVSB. 2028). Jesus overlooked what the woman at the well wanted or thought she needed and instead gave her what she really needed. What do we want from Jesus? Do we want what we think is best? What our sinful, human nature desires? Or do we want to come to Him with nothing but a heart for Him and a desire for what He knows we need?

  17. “What do you want with Jesus?” A very thought-provoking question that makes me really think as I have never been asked that before or thought of. From the time I have accepted Jesus in my heart, I never really knew of the ways I had to start living my life for Jesus. I just knew that what He did on the cross was an overwhelming love for me and had this indescribable feeling that moved inside me and I chose to believe. It was till later in life, a little in my teen years, more in my college years, that I understood more of living my life for Jesus (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Jeremiah 29:11). Overall choosing to have a relationship with God is an overwhelming peaceful, joyful experience, but we also have to keep in mind that it’s not just a one-sided laid back relationship. The Christian life is a path of obstacles and hardships, nevertheless it’s a path walked with an almighty being as a best friend walking beside you every step of the way.

    There are tools that have been given to share this experience and more. As in the Gospel of John “is a document that is not merely designed to edify those who already believe but rather primarily seeks to provide believers with a tool for evangelism” (Köstenberger, p39). Now we are better equipped to walk down this path and share the experiences.

  18. What do you want with Jesus? Is a question I’ve honestly never been asked before, ever since I was a kid I’ve felt God’s presence but never really knew all the details and the seriousness of what Jesus did for us. I think understanding who Jesus is and what he did for us is what really made me realize that I just don’t want Jesus in my life because I have to for salvation but more so, Living my life for Jesus, if I have a good relationship with Jesus then I can spread His word to those who don’t know Him. We as Christians are supposed to be Jesus’s hands and feet on Earth spreading light to those in darkness. Christ sacrificed His life so we can be free from our sins and have eternal life with Him if we believe in Him. There are so many people today who are astray and really don’t know anything about Jesus at all. When you asked this question in your blog “What is it we want with this Jesus? Salvation, with no real responsibility? A warm feeling of belonging with no real commitment? Or do we want to enter into a serious relationship with God as his child, ready to be a disciple of Jesus no matter where that takes us?” Is worded so great because I along with many other people I’m sure have been in situations where we sometimes forget the most important part about having a relationship with God and that is to like you put it to be a disciple of Jesus no matter where it takes us.

  19. The question of what I want from Jesus is something that I have been taught not to think about or even ask myself. In the Western church, we are often scrutinized and guilt driven by pastors who tell us we should only want Jesus, not what he can give to us. Not only that, we are guilt ridden (maybe I can’t speak for us all, but I can certainly speak for myself) for asking Jesus for something, or to do something in our lives. Instead, the church has promoted that we should instead change our desires to want only Jesus, and nothing earthly. While I can see the biblical ideology behind this train of thought, notably in John the Baptist’s famous line “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), I think that the idea of “want nothing else” has been taken to an extreme, and really casts aside Jesus’ human ministry. I think perhaps an important question to ponder alongside what we want with Jesus would be Jesus’ own charge to his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” When our relationship with Jesus is with both his human and divine nature, i.e. as our friend and our Lord, it changes our perspective when we consider what we want of him. When we understand Jesus’ heart for humanity, and how he came to care about the regular lives of ordinary people, we can better understand how we should approach Jesus. And when we understand that Jesus is someone who cares deeply about the human condition, the commitment and responsibility that comes with following him seem a light yoke to carry- and leaves us with a want to look more like him, and to respond to things the way that he would have. This does not mean that we can not desire healing, help, answers, or anything else Jesus can provide- Jesus showed us in his life on earth that he cares about these human wants too. I believe that understanding Jesus leaves us with a want of both holy things as well as human things.

  20. I’m sure we have all heard a fair amount of “God is not a genie” sermons in our day, but this article points out the need to continue as to direct our hearts toward God. Jesus as mentioned before, didn’t always give the people what they wanted, but what they needed. So, as a result, we need to align our wants to our needs. Naturally, this comes as a bit of a hard task, but it gets much easier when we realize that our earthly wants and needs are a mere shadow of the glory of God. Perhaps we come to Christ to rid ourselves of guilt, emotional baggage, or perhaps the gain of emotional comfort and partaking of the joys of the christian life. But, these things are just a small shadow of whats to come in the presence of our King. These things are not bad per-say, but appetizers to the main course. God is the ultimate want and need of our lives, let us come to Him for His sake.

  21. The Question what do We want from Jesus is complicated and will trigger a lot of feelings. The question of what we want with Jesus when reading the Gospel of John is certainly a deep and challenging one. The Gospel of John invites readers to ponder on their motivations and our longings in getting closer to Jesus. As you’ve noted, notable happenings repeatedly take place on the “third day” in John’s Gospel, and these events can attend as symbolic markers of deeper spiritual truths. Some individuals may initially come to Jesus seeking salvation, a profound need for forgiveness, and the assurance of eternal life. This desire is valid and important, as Jesus offers salvation freely to all who believe in Him. Others may seek a sense of belonging and community, finding comfort and fellowship among fellow believers. The Gospel of John portrays the importance of the community of faith, where believers support and encourage one another. When reading the Gospel of John, it is essential to reflect on our motivations and desires in approaching Jesus. Do we seek Him for salvation, belonging, or a genuine relationship with God? John’s Gospel encourages us to go beyond initial motivations and consider the depth of our commitment to Jesus, recognizing that true discipleship involves a lifelong journey of faith and transformation in alignment with God’s will. It invites us to answer the call to follow Jesus as His devoted disciples, no matter where that journey may lead us.

Leave a Reply