At Saint Paul’s, we remember this week by walking with Jesus day by day through the Gospel of Mark. As such, I’ll be reflecting on those daily lessons here at Draughting Theology. Today’s lesson is Mark 14:1-11.
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible tells us that after negotiating a deal to turn Jesus over to the authorities, Judas “began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” As far as translations go, the choice of the word “look” works, but it isn’t ideal. The better translation of the word zeteo is “to seek,” which gives the astute reader with Greek lemma searching capabilities the chance to see an interesting narrative arc in Mark’s Gospel.
The first occurrence of zeteo in Mark comes at 1:37. Jesus is fresh off of a powerful evening of healing at Peter’s home, when he goes off by himself to pray. The disciples are said to “hunt him down,” and when they find him, they tell Jesus that “everyone is seeking you.” The final occurrence of zeteo in Mark comes at 16:6. The women have found the tomb empty and two men say to them, “Don’t be distressed. You seek Jesus, but he has been raised. He is not here.” In between are eight uses of the word, each with increasing pressure against Jesus. From seeking signs from him, to seeking ways to kill him, Mark’s use of this word ramps up the anxiety level in the story again and again, until finally we find Judas “seeking for an opportune time to betray him.”
This leads me to wonder if Mark was using this word intentionally, or if I’m seeking patterns that aren’t there. It also leads me to wonder about my own motivations for seeking Jesus. Do I want to find him so that he can do something for me? Do I seek after him for his approval? Do I desire him only to obtain eternal life? Or, am I seeking after him in order to find his will for me? Do I want to find his deepest desires for my life? Do I desire him simply to be in relationship? Judas sought from Jesus something Jesus was not sent to offer, and so Judas sought a way to betray him. Why do I seek Jesus?