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Jesus The Hunted, Jesus The Hunter

Simon and his companions "hunted" for Jesus, and the first thing they said upon finding him is "Everyone is searching for you" (Mark 1:36, 37). I imagine them waking up to find that Jesus is gone. One of them says, "Where is Jesus?" "Oh, he's probably outside the door." Someone opens the door: "Nope, not there." "Maybe he's down at the town well. I'll check." A few minutes later: "He wasn't there either. Nobody's seen head nor tail of him, and there are a lot of people out on the street wanting to see him." His companions look around the house hoping he scratched a note on a potsherd telling his whereabouts, but there is nothing. Not one sign of where or when he took off. Panic begins to set in. They spread out through the neighborhood and then into the countryside calling, "Jesus, Jesus, where are you?"
Jesus the hunted. People are desperate to find him. They have so many needs, so many questions, so many doubts and struggles, so many hopes and yearnings. They are ill and separated from their community, and they want healing: "A leper came to him begging him" (Mark 1: 40). They have friends whom they know Jesus can help if only they can get their friends to him: "Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man carried by four of them" (Mark 2:3).
Jesus the hunted. Are you and your people hunting for him? Does it seem you have lost track of his whereabouts? Maybe, Jesus has left where you usually find him, and he has again gone off to "a deserted place" (Mark 1:35). Maybe his ministry to you is to be Jesus the hunted so that you might leave the habitual haunts of your faith, because like him you need to move on to new territories (Mark 1:38). Maybe we are wrong to preach "Jesus is always with us." He was not always with his disciples during his earthly ministry so why should he always be with us now? Maybe Jesus knows that if he does not leave us to hunt for him, we will become presumptuous and complacent about our need for him.
But Jesus the hunted is also Jesus the hunter: "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17). It is Jesus the hunter who persists in searching for those whom the world has given up as lost forever. Jesus hunts them with love. Jesus hunts them with grace. Jesus hunts them through people who have hunted for Jesus, and having found him are so filled with his presence that he, through them, reaches out to others.
Who is Jesus for you and for your church now? Jesus the hunted?
Jesus the hunter? Or both?
Thomas H. Troeger
Iliff School of Theology
Denver, CO