A Biblical Streaker?! By Kelly Moyer You may know that my husband Drew and I are huge fans of the Minnesota Twins. We love Target Field, trade rumors, sunflower seeds, and the sound of a fastball hitting the sweet-spot of the bat. We’re also very “traditional” baseball fans: we do not participate in “The Wave” and we’ve only left a game early once (and that’s because it was 38 degrees)—very “no nonsense” baseball. But I’m going to be honest with you, I love those crazy fans that take the leap over the fence and do their best to elude the on-field security team! I know, not a very “no nonsense” thing to say, but I’ve even contemplated it: scoped out my point of entrance, planned my victory run, choreographed my antics… with a bit of time at the gym, I think I could easily outrun some of those security guards! I mean, I need to feel what the outfield grass is like! I need to. But the cost of streaking at the Twins game is high: a lifetime ban from the stadium. That is not a price I’m willing to pay!
In the Gospel of Mark, as we near the climax of Jesus’ life and task while on earth, we also find one of the strangest, most awkward details in the New Testament, one that has bamboozled the most erudite biblical scholars: the streaker. Yes, you read that correctly, a biblical streaker. After some of the most important moments in the Passion narrative—Jesus celebrating Passover with his disciples, the time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal and arrest of Jesus, and the disciples’ abandonment of their Lord—we get this little nugget of mystery in Mark 14:51-52: “A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.”
Talk about getting your antics caught on tape! #Awkward!
But while we can laugh at this very awkward inclusion by the author of Mark, it’s a pretty serious detail. Again, in scholarship, there’s no definitive explanation for the streaker, but there is one I am more inclined towards which contends that the act of a man voluntarily revealing his naked body in public would demonstrate his utter disregard for societal norms in order to disassociate himself with Jesus. Like the father figure in Luke 15 who embarrasses himself by running to his degenerate son, by his actions our streaker would be willing to accept complete shame upon himself just to get away from Jesus and his disciples. Scholars say that this would convey to the gospel’s reader the extent of Jesus’ rejection, even among his followers. Our daily lives and bad decisions may not be recorded in the biblical text like our streaker, but they are always done in the company of others, believers and non-believers alike. Of course, we live in the freedom and love of God’s grace, but we should always be aware of what our actions are saying about our love and relationship with Christ. If we claim to wear the label of Christfollower, we are representing Christ to others. Our actions reflect upon another’s understanding of Jesus!
Sure, there might be a few seconds of glory in jumping the outfield fence and jogging around the infield, but the cost is high. Likewise, there might be a moment of glory in receiving a laugh for a disparaging comment, but the cost is infinitely high for the others around you. There is no glory in abandoning Jesus in our words and actions. Don’t be like the streaker in Mark; keep your clothes on! You know, Romans 13:14: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”