His simple story of that afternoon contains in it the three steps that begin all service. They looked at Jesus; they talked with Jesus; forever to the end of their lives they talked about Him. Here are the two personal contacts that underlie all service, that lead into all service. The close personal contact with Jesus begun and continued. And then personal contact with other men ever after. The first always leads to the second. The power and helpfulness of the second grow out of the first.
There is a little line in the story that may serve as a graphic biography of John the Herald. There could be no finer biography of anybody of whom it could be truly written. It is this: |Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said look.| He himself was absorbed in looking. Jesus caught him from the first. He was ever looking. And he asked others to look. His whole ministry was summed up in pointing Jesus out to others.
He was ever insisting that men look at Jesus. Looking, he said |look.| His lips said it, and life said it. John's presence was always spelling out that word |look,| with his whole life an index finger pointing to Jesus. If we might be like that. Every man of us may be in his life, in the great unconscious influence of his presence, a clearly lettered signpost pointing men to the Master. All true service begins in personal contact with Jesus. One cannot know Him personally without catching the warm contagion of His spirit for others. And there is a fine fragrance, a gentle, soft warmth, about the service that grows out of being with Him.
The beginning of John's contact with Jesus that day, and Andrew's, was in looking. Their friend the herald bid them look. They found him looking. They did as he was doing. Following the line of his eyes, and of his teaching too, and of his life, they looked at Jesus. And as they looked the sight of their eyes began to control them. They left John and quickened their pace to get nearer to this Man at whom they were looking. There never was a finer tribute to a man's faithfulness to his Master than is found in these men leaving John. They could not help going. They had been led by John into the circle of Jesus' attractive power. And at once they are irresistibly drawn toward its center.
The basis of the truest devotion and deepest loyalty to Jesus is not in a creed but in Himself. There must be creeds. Whatever a man believes is of course his creed. Though as quickly as he puts it into words he narrows it. Truth is always more than any statement of it. Faith is always greater than our words about it. We do not see Jesus with our outer eyes as did these men in the Gospel narrative. We cannot put out our hands in any such way as Thomas did and know by the feel. We must listen first to somebody telling about Him.
We listen either with eyes on the Book, or ears open to some faithful mutual friend of His and ours. What we hear either way is a creed, somebody's belief about Jesus. So we come to Jesus first through a creed, somebody's belief, somebody's telling: so we know there is a Jesus, and are drawn to Himself. When we come to know Himself, always afterwards He is more than anything anybody ever told us, and more than we can ever tell.