As we neared the Father’s Cabin, I began to imagine what it would look like. Would it be a magnificent mansion on an imposing hill? Would it have all the modern conveniences of a royal summer resort? So far all my expectations had been turned upside down, so I tried not to even bother guessing. Jesus, I am finding, is full of surprises!
We drove up and down and around on a narrow curvy driveway lined by thick forest and breathtaking views of a lake. Jesus looked over and said, “Almost there! Are you ready?” I nodded, with a thousand unasked questions percolating in my mind. “Ready for what?” I thought.
Where will I sleep?
What will we do?
Will others be staying with us?
What will we eat? (Does Jesus even eat?)
Most of all I wondered what the purpose of this weekend with Jesus really was.
“Jeremy, just come and see,” Jesus said. But I hadn’t even voiced my questions. Being in the presence of someone who can read your thoughts is very strange and disarming!
He repeated, “Just come and see. The things I’m going to show you can’t be explained. They can’t be learned in a book or passed on secondhand. They must be experienced firsthand. You must come and see for yourself.”
As he spoke I remembered the stories of Jesus and his first disciples recorded in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. When those poor fisherman first met Jesus 2,000 years ago he was equally as vague and playful. They were equally as puzzled. As the story goes, two guys were intrigued by Jesus and so they decided to tag along with him on his road trip.
Along the way Jesus turned to them and asked, “What do you seek?”
They replied, “We want to know where you are staying?” In other words, they want to know where THEY will also be staying if they join him for the journey! How far are they traveling? What kind of accommodations will they have?
Jesus said with a twinkle in his eye, “Come and see.”
No further explanation. No itinerary. These guys were skipping out on work, risking their jobs, leaving their families behind for the weekend, and Jesus doesn’t give them any details on where they are going and what they will be doing. Just “Come and see.”
So, with Jesus himself next to me in the car and this episode on my mind, I decided I’d ask him about this frustrating tendency. “Jesus, why were you so cryptic with those two guys. Why just ‘come and see’? They merely wanted to know where you were staying?”
Jesus smiled and said, “Ahhh, yes. They merely wanted to know where I was staying that night — the physical location I would be laying my head. But I wanted to show them a much more significant kind of lodging place, a deeper kind of dwelling place, a much more profound manner of staying.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You have always read that episode in the English translation,” Jesus continued, “And so you miss the deeper significance of what I was trying to do in that moment with those two men. John captured it in the original Greek language where the word for stay is meno which points to the deeper reality than merely a physical, temporary staying. The word means to remain, abide; to live, dwell; to last, endure, or continue.”
I suddenly felt like I was back in my seminary Greek class — except now it was Jesus himself helping me translate!
Jesus continued the lesson, “People, both then and now, get too caught up in material realities — the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the home we live in. But there is an eternal state of being where our hearts can find rest, be truly at home, nestled securely in the embrace of a moment-to-moment awareness of God-reality. Throughout my teaching ministry I called it the ‘life of the Kingdom.'”
I was hanging on his every word as he continued.
“I didn’t come to earth to invite those disciples to a Super 8 experience. I asked them, “What do you seek?” They responded with, “Where are you staying?” They wanted a weekend sleepover at Zechariah’s motel on the hill. I was inviting them to “Come and see” — that is, come and learn how to experience a new kind of life characterized by a deep, moment to moment abiding in the life-giving power of the Kingdom of God.”
My heart was thumping in my chest, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck as Jesus opened the Scriptures to me. I had read that story dozens of times and even preached on it before. I had never seen this deeper significance of that exchange between Jesus and those puzzled disciples. They were clearly not aware of that depth of Jesus’ invitation that weekend.
“So, Jeremy, the invitation to you this weekend is much the same,” Jesus said. “Don’t get caught up on the physical lodgings at my Father’s Cabin. Don’t focus on the size of the room, the style of architecture, the physical surroundings, landscaping and such. I’m inviting you to “come and see” not where I’m laying my head tonight, but where and how I abide — live, breathe, move — in the ever present power and embrace of the Kingdom of God available to you. ”
As he finished this sentence we pulled up to a clearing on a hill and before me stood a beautiful yet modestly rustic cabin with sloping lawn overlooking a glimmering lake. The cabin had cedar shake siding, a lakeside deck overlooking the dock and swim raft below.
Opening his car door with excitement he turned and said, “Come and see!”
“Abide (meno) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides (meno) in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide (meno) in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides (meno) in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
“When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you seek?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon” (John 1:35-39).
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Do you struggle with needing to know every detail before you commit to something? How would / do you handle Jesus’ tendency to keep you guessing at where he’s leading you without giving you all the details (“come and see”)? What might it mean for you personally to abide (Gk. meno) in Christ and the reality of the God’s Kingdom?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” I confess that I am often restless, moving from place to place, person to person, activity to activity, like a desperate beggar trying to find a place to rest for awhile. I want to “come and see” what it means to dwell, to abide, in the security of a moment to moment relationship with You. Show me how to abide in you. Amen.