There is something profoundly provoking, powerful and perilous about a naked human body. Its unclothed reality is something that is mesmerizingly earthy and otherworldly. Its beauty is an icon that often reveals more about the person witnessing it, than the person displaying it.
It’s often the bane of the pious and the pulpit, the altar of the pornographer, chain of the prisoner and dream of the lover.
We enter this world and leave it naked and in between, we wrestle and worship it. Some see it in shame, others with disdain, others bewail its inability to live up to one’s demands or desires and others have set the world’s armies against one another to hold it close.
In studying the gospel of Mark there are moments of short narrative that are easily moved past that capture the attention of the curious.
Why mention seemingly insignificant observations?
What is behind Mark’s storytelling?
What is it about us and our nakedness that finds a place in the final moments of redemptions zenith?
At the dusk of the Old Creation, we read of naked humanity fleeing from God’s presence.
At the dawn of the New Creation we see humanity fleeing in nakedness.
At the cross Christ is stripped of His robe.
On the cross Christ hangs naked.
In the tomb He is clothed in a linen burial cloth.
At the empty tomb, in another garden…the garment is left on the ground.
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?
“And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.”
“A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.”
“Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”
(Artist: Italian painter Roberto Ferri)