Jesus and Sadness

When you think of Jesus, just how human is he? I’ve been posting on this theme lately because I’ve been thinking about it for years, and for whatever reason, during this spring break, these little snippets are just overflowing. This morning it’s Mark 14:17–25 that I think poses a nice challenge.

As Jesus sits with his closest friends, having already told them multiple times he is about to suffer and be killed, he breaks the news that one of them is going to hand him over. What’s the tone of the conversation? Yes, of course, you see all the disciples scrambling in bewilderment, each of them asking, “Me? Is it me?”

But look up at Jesus’ face. What do you see? We’ve been in this literary world how many times in our life? Have you looked at his face?

I think we often see him looking down, eating, sitting up straight, sort of stone faced, chin up. If we were to caption this perception of him, it might say, “I know what one of you is about to do. I know.” Stern voice, resignation, laying down the truth.

That can’t be all of it. Surely he is sad. Surely he struggles to say these words. Do you think Gethsemane is the only time he felt grief and sadness and loneliness? Stoic, truth-telling philosopher all his adult life then goes straight to grieving like a madman in the garden — that can’t be it, can it?

He was despised and rejected by people — a man of suffering, familiar with sickness. (Is 53:3)

He repeats himself in various ways as he breaks the news. As his friends are in disbelief and probably again thinking what he is saying can’t be right — they always think he is off base — he says, “One of the twelve.” That had to sting. One of the twelve that he called out and lived with for so long. Then speaking more directly to the moment, “One who is eating with me.”

How could he say those words with dry eyes or without a stutter or mumble or sigh? He sees the faces of those he knows will miss him more than any others. He knows the pain they are about to experience. Don’t you fear the pain that others will experience when you are gone? Didn’t he feel that?

Then there is verse 22. Imagine: He knows what’s coming. He picks up the bread, with his friend who will betray him in the room, and he breaks it. He breaks the bread. Doesn’t he know that symbolizes his body? Isn’t he the one that told us that? He broke it. Don’t you think his emotions were stirred?

He had to be made like them, fully human in every way. (Heb 3:17, NIV)

Do the gospel authors have to tell us every time he feels sadness for us to go there? Isn’t it enough that they told us he was born to Mary? Isn’t it enough that Hebrews says he was like us, fully human in every way? Isn’t that warrant for imagining his eyes and voice showed the same emotions you experience?

After he broke it he gave thanks. Have you worshipped genuinely in the midst of grief and sadness? I imagine that little table blessing was marked by pain. He picked up the cup that he knew was a symbol of his blood. Don’t you think he feared the lashes and the nails and the suffering? He will struggle to breathe.

How can “one of you will betray me” not be marked by grief and sadness and loneliness? How you imagine his face and his voice matters a whole lot. We are in a season where we need to know that he is familiar with sickness and sadness, loneliness and pain.

Fire in His Eyes

If you were to look into Jesus’ eyes in Mark 12, I imagine you would describe them like John did in Revelation 1 — as a flame of fire. Has a more subversive, weighty little story ever been told than what you hear at the beginning of Mark 12? It’s certainly on the level of Nathan’s “you are the man.” This is the story of the vineyard entrusted to farmers, who in the end killed all the owner’s servants and even killed his son in hopes of gaining the inheritance for themselves.

Here in chapter twelve, it’s like the undercurrent of furor that was boiling in Mark 3 spills over. There, early in the book, Jesus was brimming with anger because his opponents were more interested in playing legal games than showing compassion to those suffering. Here, however, he doesn’t hold his tongue. As chapter eleven comes to a close and prefaces Jesus’ story, I imagine him stepping up to the mic like Apollo:

Down from the peaks of Olympos he hastened, enraged at heart, carrying on his shoulders his bow and lidded quiver, arrows rattling loud on his shoulders as in his rage he strode on his way: he came as nightfall comes. (Iliad translated by Peter Green, 2015, p. 26)

Jesus is calm and composed as he tells the story. That composure mixed with the ferocity of the words is why I think in this moment Jesus’ eyes looked just as deep and fiery and filled with life and power as what John saw.

As he draws the story to a close and explicitly says that the lord (ὁ κύριος) will destroy the abusive farmers, he makes his own literary reference.

Haven’t you read this scripture? The stone the builders rejected, this one became the cornerstone. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

There’s the twinkle. The last clause. Can’t you see it? As he utters the syllables ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, don’t you know his face lit up with a smile? One of those I got you smiles that is resigned to whatever hostile reaction it might ignite. Despite all the misunderstanding up to this point, they got it this time: “They knew he told the parable about them.” The arrows sliced through their targets.

He said it was marvelous. Maybe the mention of wonder and marvel, as Jesus leans into his coming suffering, is related to the wonder and fear his followers felt on the road as they headed to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32). Things are changing, it’s from the Lord, but it’s scary and confusing and amazing. Hardly anyone knows what to think except the one who walked ahead.

Imagining the Dead Passages

Sometimes it’s the dead passages that draw you in and pique your curiosity — passages where there is no seemingly significant action. I’ll try to describe what I mean with two examples that I couldn’t help but visualize and imagine how the scene might look and feel.

Mark 10:32

What in the world is happening in this verse? Jesus has just finished some particularly hard teaching, but reading this verse still felt like a jolt.

Mark 10:32Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο· οἱ δὲ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἐφοβοῦντο.Now, they were on the road going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was walking ahead of them, and they were amazed. And those who were following were afraid.

I don’t see a direct connection to what happens before this verse and the state of consternation and fear in those who watch Jesus walking along ahead of them. I guess they are watching him. I visualize the passage through the eyes of those following behind, looking at Jesus and feeling fear and wonder. I don’t see a particularly strong connection to what follows either.

To me, 10:32 seems like a somewhat random verse. In another sense, however, it captures what I sense as a strange mood of confusion and disorientation present in the middle of Mark. I mentioned this mood on Twitter and towards the end of the previous post.

What does he look like as he walks up ahead? Is he frustrated or sad? What are those around you whispering as they articulate their fear and amazement?

Mark 11:11–12

This seems like a classic calm before the bar fight movie scene. He enters the place where the confrontation will happen. He looks around, and you think it might happen. But he leaves, and we wait for tomorrow.

Mark 11:11–12Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν, καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα, ὀψίας ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας, ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα. Καὶ τῇ ἐπαύριον …And he went into Jerusalem, into the temple, and having looked around at everything, because the hour was late, he went out into Bethany with the twelve. And on the next day …

What did he do that evening? After he checked out the place, what was his demeanor like, and what were the conversation like with his friend around the fire? How early did he go to bed? Did he stare up at the sky that night? Was he rehearsing exactly what he would say and do in the temple the next day?

The next day he went into the temple and turned the place upside down. There is a really interesting point in that scene where he wouldn’t let anyone carry anything through the temple, but that is another story for another post. It’s not exactly a dead passage.

Jesus and Disappointment

“He was wanting to, but …” This refrain stands out to me as I read through Mark. I want to walk you through a few passages and make a simple point alluded to in the title. You see it clearly in Mark 6:48 and 7:24.

Mark 6:48 and 7:24

6:48–49περὶ τετάρτην φυλακὴν τῆς νυκτὸς ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτοὺς περιπατῶν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς. Οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν …About the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking on the sea. He was wanting to pass by them, but when they saw him …
Mark 7:24Ἐκεῖθεν δὲ ἀναστὰς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς οἰκίαν οὐδένα ἤθελεν γνῶναι καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθη λαθεῖν.Getting up from there he went away into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. And when he entered a house, he was not wanting anyone to know where he was. He wasn’t able to be hidden.

These verses don’t say that Jesus was very upset by wanting one thing and experiencing another. They don’t say he wasn’t either. Maybe they stand out to me because earlier in Mark I was thinking 3:12 had a similar vibe.

Mark 3:12

Mark 3:12καὶ πολλὰ ἐπετίμα αὐτοῖς ἵνα μὴ αὐτὸν φανερὸν ποιήσωσιν.And he would often fuss at them to not make him known.
OR
And he was fussing and fussing at them to not make him known.

At first, I read πολλὰ ἐπετίμα as “he would often fuss at them.” This caused me to reflect on on how Jesus knew what it was like to have to say something over and over and not be listened to. 5:10, however, makes me think πολλά ἐπετίμα might rather be intended to communicate something like “with a lot of words” or “fuss and fuss.” In 5:10, the demon begs Jesus πολλά.

5:10καὶ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν πολλὰ ἵνα μὴ αὐτοὺς ἀποστείλῃ ἔξω τῆς χώρας.And it was begging and begging him not to send them out of the region.

Here, πολλά can’t mean often; it is a description of the demon’s speech in that moment. Mark seems to use πολλά frequently to describe someone speaking at length. Swete was helpful in pointing out other uses in Mark.

Πολλὰ ἐπετίμα, Vg. vehementer comminabatur: πολλά as an adverb is characteristic of Mc., cf. 5:10, 5:23, 5:43, 9:26. Mt. has the less vivid ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς: Lc. omits the circumstance. (Henry Barclay Swete, The Gospel According to Mark. Classic Commentaries on Greek New Testament, [Macmillain & Co., 1913]. Archive.org; Logos)

So, 3:12 could mean Jesus “would fuss often” and be describing Jesus’ many encounters with demons and how he had to over and over command them not to reveal his Identity. Or, more likely, it describes how Jesus, on that occasion, fussed at length for that demon to keep its mouth shut.

Either way you read 3:12, it fits with the idea I’m pointing out in 6:48 and 7:24. Jesus could have shut the demons’ mouths with a word, like he calmed the sea, but he didn’t. Or perhaps we should say he wasn’t permitted to. In the words of Hebrews, and to tip my hand to the conclusion, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

One more passage.

Mark 7:18

This portion of Mark is so interesting and mysterious. Jesus and the disciples are overworked and too busy, and it’s like Jesus is in a sort of twilight zone. Similar situations repeat like a biblical Groundhog Day, and he is surrounded by people that do not understand him. Those with whom he is closest come to him and show that they don’t get it either. His response is striking:

Mark 7:18καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοι ἐστέ;And he said to them, “Do even y’all not get it?!”

I understand that in this passage Jesus is pushing his disciples to deeper understanding. I know the force of the statement is a rebuke. What I’m interested in, however, is the tone of the words. It can be both a rebuke and an expression of disappointment and frustration. In these words, I hear a clear tone of sadness, loneliness, and frustration. He is working hard physically and mentally, he is emotionally taxed, and he is misunderstood despite repeated explanations. How can he be fully human and those experiences not lead him to frustration and disappointment?

Conclusion

These passages shows that Jesus knows what it is like to want one thing and experience the frustration and disappointment of getting another. It is a simple observation, but it’s one that means a lot to me.

When Jesus Gets Mad

The first part of Mark 3 is one of my favorite passages in the Gospels.

Mark 3:1–6

Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν πάλιν εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν. καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἄνθρωπος ἐξηραμμένην ἔχων τὴν χεῖρα. καὶ παρετήρουν αὐτὸν εἰ τοῖς σάββασιν θεραπεύσει αὐτόν, ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ.He entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man with a crippled hand there. They were watching Jesus to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath so that they might bring charges against him.
καὶ λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ τὴν ξηρὰν χεῖρα ἔχοντι· ἔγειρε εἰς τὸ μέσον. καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν ἀγαθὸν ποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι, ψυχὴν σῶσαι ἢ ἀποκτεῖναι; οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων.Jesus said to the man who had the crippled hand, “Stand in the middle of us.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to take one?” And they were silent.
καὶ περιβλεψάμενος αὐτοὺς μετ᾿ ὀργῆς, συλλυπούμενος ἐπὶ τῇ πωρώσει τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ· ἔκτεινον τὴν χεῖρα. καὶ ἐξέτεινεν καὶ ἀπεκατεστάθη ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ.When he had looked around at them with anger and was frustrated at the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” And he was holding out his hand, and it was like new!
Καὶ ἐξελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι εὐθὺς μετὰ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν συμβούλιον ἐδίδουν κατ᾿ αὐτοῦ ὅπως αὐτὸν ἀπολέσωσιν.When the Pharisees left, they immediately, with the Herodians, put together a plan against Jesus in order that they might eliminate him.

Two Subordinate Clauses

The religious leaders think they have him. What’s he going to do? Jesus leans in and speaks directly to the issue, but they won’t say a word. The tension is thick. There are versions of the same story in Matt 12:9–14 and Luke 6:6–11, but Mark adds a detail that arrests my attention.

As Jesus turns from their silence to the crippled man, Mark prefaces Jesus’ words with two subordinate clauses. In the bold words above, you see Jesus look around the room, from one person to the next, with anger. What might his face look like in this moment? Why is he so mad? What kind of people would be in a room where Jesus looks around with anger?

With Whom?

These aren’t people who know they are weak and want help. When Jesus gets angry, it’s with people who think showing compassion is a threat. Throughout the Gospels Jesus calls out sexual immorality and speaks very clearly about all sorts of moral issues. When the Gospel writers say he is mad, however, it is because people withhold love and grace from those who are broken and know they need help.

The best thing here is that Mark’s little addition (μετ᾿ ὀργῆς) highlights something about Jesus. If Jesus himself isn’t compassionate, his reaction doesn’t make sense, does it?

Lexicon Preferences in Accordance

I have always wanted to setup Accordance so that I can jump straight to BDAG if I am in the GNT but jump to LSJ if I’m in the Septuagint. It just dawned on me this evening that the live click feature makes this possible. You can triple-click to jump to one lexicon, or you can use the live click feature to jump to another.

I explained it below with text and pictures, and I embedded a short video, too. This would of course work for Hebrew if you wanted to go to HALOT for Biblical Hebrew but DCH for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If you are new to live click you will want to make sure the preferences for live click are set to “Sort by library (entry).” You can find out more about live click here.

Lexicon 1 — Preferences, Amplify

Open your Accordance preferences, go to the Amplify section, and set your primary Greek lexicon. For me, that’s BDAG. This is the lexicon you will jump to if you triple-click.

Lexicon 2 — Library Order

Now, whichever other lexicon you would like to be able to jump to can be placed at the top of the Greek lexicon section of your library. For me, that’s LSJ. This is the lexicon you will jump to if you single click using the live click feature.

That’s all there is to it. I don’t know why I didn’t realize this earlier. Make sure live click is active. Single-click to go to LSJ and triple-click to go to BDAG.

Video

2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX in Accordance

Accordance is the only software that has Hanhart’s 2 Chronicles Göttingen edition. V&R published the print edition in 2014, and Accordance released their electronic edition in 2018.

Currently, Accordance has their Göttingen LXX on sale for the lowest price they have ever offered. The 2 Chronicles volume is available apart from the bundle, but the individual volume is not currently on sale.

In this post, I want to demonstrate a few of my favorite ways to use this resource on MacOS, iOS, and iPadOS. This will give you a better idea of what it looks like to work with an electronic edition of Göttingen on each platform.

MacOS

On the Mac, I use the Göttingen volumes more for reference than reading. I find it helpful to save each Göttingen volume in its own workspace and then jump to that workspace when I want to reference it. This setup allows me to reference a Göttingen volume without the need to open the text module, open the apparatus module, and then adjust the size and position of each.

The following video shows you how to setup and save a workspace for the 2 Chronicles module:

Saving a workspace for 2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX

After you have a workspace setup for the Göttingen volume, you can then jump to it easily by two-finger clicking on a verse reference and selecting the workspace name from the context menu. Check it out:

Jumping to the 2 Chronicles Göttingen LXX workspace

Before looking at the module on the iPad and iPhone, I want to show you another way I reference the Göttingen volumes on MacOS. You can set up the Göttingen volumes in a workspace alongside other ancient witnesses and jump to that workspace when you want to quickly look for other readings. I named my workspace OT Texts. In this video, here’s what I do:

  • I jump from 2 Chronicles 1:1 in the the Hebrew Bible
  • to my OT Texts workspace
  • to the 2 Chronicles Göttingen volume
  • and back to the Hebrew Bible where I started.
HB > OT Texts > Göttingen > back to HB

iPadOS

In this section, I just want to share some screenshots of what the 2 Chronicles volume looks like on iPad OS. There will be another post that continues my “Ways of Reading” series, and in that post I’ll talk about reading Göttingen 2 Chronicles on the iPad and using a print lexicon.

Göttingen text with apparatus:

12.9” iPad Pro 2018

Gottingen text with NETS as diglot:

12.9” iPad Pro 2018

Now, let’s take a look at what it looks like to actually jump to a few lexicons while reading the text on an iPad. In this video, here’s what I do:

  • I start with the 2 Chronicles Göttingen text,
  • open the instant details by long pressing on χιλίαρχος,
  • jump to BDAG,
  • switch to LSJ,
  • switch to LEH,
  • and go back to the Göttingen text.
12.9” iPad Pro 2018

iOS

Last but not least, just a couple screenshots on the iPhone.

Göttingen text only:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Göttingen text with apparatus:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Göttingen text with instant details:

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Conclusion

The laptop/desktop software allows you to reference the Göttingen volumes in unique ways. You can quickly jump to the Göttingen volume with the apparatus already open and positioned correctly. You can also setup and jump to a workspace that allows you to see the Göttingen volume alongside other ancient witnesses. The iPad and iPhone versions allow you to more comfortably read the text and reference your Göttingen volumes on the go.

I hope this post gives you a better idea of how you can use the electronic edition of the Göttingen Septuagint in Accordance.