It is always interesting to me when a word seems to appear in Scripture, seemingly out of the blue. I’ve been preaching the Lectionary for almost a decade now, that’s three full cycles, and I think I’m noticing a word for the very first time this morning. The scene in Mark’s Gospel is a familiar one. Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and in turn, the whole city comes to see what this Rabbi from Nazareth is up to. They’ve heard him teach, they saw him cast out demons, but now he is healing infirmities, actual diseases. He has raised the stakes.
Early in the morning, Jesus must have been a morning person, he got up and went in search of some quiet time with his Father to rest and recharge. Mark tells us that Simon and his companions “hunted for him.” I’ve never noticed that word “hunted” before. Maybe it is because I’m not a hunter. I grew up the son of a factory line supervisor. The Monday after Thanksgiving was the opening day of deer season in Pennsylvania, and my dad was in the bindery working while his crew was out in the forest hunting bambi. Hunting has never been a part of my life, so perhaps I just didn’t notice the word because it didn’t mean anything to me.
For some reason, this morning, it hit me. When they find Jesus, they tell him that everyone is searching for him. Searching is one thing, hunting is another. Now, I’m writing this in a Dunkin Donuts in Daphne, AL, so Bibleworks is not at my disposal, and I’m honestly wondering about this word “hunting.” Hunting to me insinuates a desperate search. Simon and the gang really wanted to find Jesus, probably not so he could keep healing people, though that’d be nice, but because they wanted to follow him. They hunted him down in order to stay with him, to learn from him, to be a part of what he was doing.
Plenty of people are searching for Jesus these days. They may not know that’s what they are looking for, but in many cases, it is. They feel empty or sad or are in need of healing and grace, and they search. They search the bottom of a bottle or a pipe full of smack. They search brothels and shopping malls. They seek to fill the void in all sorts of ways. Eventually, perhaps, they find themselves hunting for Jesus, desperate to find the key to life abundant. I wonder, have you ever found yourself hunting Jesus down?