We come back to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us and He does. But we’ve already had to do the naked run of shame.
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
It was one of those phrases that grabbed my attention—“God has never embarrassed you.” As it struck my eardrum, it echoed through my mind. It sunk in and permeated my grey matter like a challenge, forcing me to face it, forcing me to analyse it even though I didn’t like the conclusions it was leading me toward. God has never embarrassed me but have I ever embarrassed Him? Or worse, have I ever been embarrassed of Him?
Before I answer that question, let’s delve a little deeper into the story before us. Here we have two very different characters and two very different reactions or responses to Jesus in a time of crisis.
First, Judas appears on the scene. He’s been absent from the disciples and their night vigil with Jesus. He’s been plotting with the authorities and is ready to make things happen on his own timetable. For the past three years, Judas has journeyed by Jesus’ side, learning from Him—walking, eating, sleeping and ministering with Him. But his heart is no longer there. He’s sold out. Yet watch what he does. He kisses Jesus. He still calls Him teacher. Do we “kiss” up to God, when our heart’s not in it? Do we attend church, sing or preach and go through the motions of looking like God’s friend while we are wilfully sinning? When the going gets tough and our faith is challenged, do we betray Jesus with a kiss so we can fit in with whatever the strongest force is around us? I know I have. None of us are perfect but when we justify our actions and go for long periods of time walking the Christian walk but having nothing to do with Jesus in our lives, we hurt the message and the Kingdom. We betray our Saviour’s sacrifice.
What about the young man who runs off naked? Some have suggested this is a cameo by the writer Mark himself as this is the only gospel this little anecdote appears in. Whoever the young man is, the writer included the story for a reason. And I don’t believe it’s just for a bit of humour either. Sometimes when high profile people or the media start accusing the Christian faith, we go MIA (missing in action). We run away from our Christian faith as fast as we can, like we don’t want to be caught seen with Jesus. Our non-action, not saying anything to defend God or Christ, is like running away. It’s like, I’m happy when the going is good and things are going well, but when a crisis hits, I’m out! Unfortunately this often leaves us naked and embarrassed. We come back to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us and He does. But we’ve already had to do the naked run of shame.
Jesus in this story is hours from the cross. He is not ashamed of Judas. He is not ashamed of the young man. And He is not ashamed of Himself or His Heavenly Father. And He is not ashamed of us. No matter how many times I’ve let Him down, He always forgives me. I am encouraged by this story. It reminds me that often in life, when I make my own decisions or run away from conflict or from someone challenging my faith, I’m left bare-cheeked and embarrassed. So I’m praying for the strength to stand with my Redeemer.
Today, I’m praying that He takes away my selfish inclinations, my own agendas, my use and abuse of Him to feel comfortable in life. Instead I must let Him take control, let Him lead and let Him give me the strength to follow, no matter where He leads, no matter what I am asked to give up. Join me in submitting to the Saviour today.
Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of Adventist Record.