Not Offended in Me
Blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame (Revelation 16:15).
I was a few-months-old Christian the night our host noticed that I wasn’t partaking in the joint being passed around by friends congregated at his house. Not that he particularly cared what I did, because normally I was one who blended in with the crowd. But that particular evening he must’ve thought my behavior odd because he point-blank asked me in front of them all why I wasn’t joining them.
My deliverance from drug addiction and anxiety attacks were fresh miracles at this point, and were as real as real could be. There was no denying that my life had changed since my personal relationship with Jesus began and I loved Him for it.
So, there I was face to face with my first opportunity to go public with my faith. My little light had shined, and one of my unenlightened peers actually noticed. But being a witness for Jesus was yet uncharted territory—and that territory had dangers.
What did I do? I blanched. The guy blindsided me. Caught me totally unprepared to stand up for Christ. When I found my voice, I sputtered out some vague confession of faith. To make matters worse, I did it apologetically.
Needless to say, shame buried me before the shrewd smile hit my host’s lips. His belittling comment about me needing Jesus as a crutch then left me speechless and as they say, ‘naked as a jaybird’. After all Jesus had done for me, and I failed Him miserably in the face of opposition, had crumbled at the slightest intimidation! I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.
It was a steep learning curve for me as a Christian. I had been taken off guard and thus became offended in my Savior. My comeback after the shame of people seeing my spiritual nakedness was a painful lesson learned. I want always to be found in Christ (Philippians 3:9). For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ (Galatians 3:27).
That incident came to mind again recently while reading Mark 14. The scene takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s nighttime and the glow of approaching torches flickers through the branches of olive trees. A crowd of soldiers and angry church leaders with swords and clubs descends upon Jesus and His disciples. In the lead, a supposed friend.
Jesus warned his disciples beforehand that what was about to happen was absolutely necessary for their salvation. He reminded them of Zechariah’s words. ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’, and further declared that, ‘You will all be offended because of me this night . . .’ (Matthew 26:31), and, ‘Keep awake and watch and pray (constantly), that you may not enter into temptation . . .’ (Mark 14:38).
But His disturbing statements and instructions to keep watch and pray left their hearts sorrowful and heavy with grief. It set the perfect stage for taking offense at what came next. Can you imagine the confusion over that fateful kiss and Jesus calling His betrayer—their comrade—Friend? Of Jesus being seized and arrested? Of an ear being lobbed off—then miraculously healed. In the perplexing clash of good and evil, love and hate, His disciples freaked out. They all forsook Him and fled (vs 50).
My heart felt for them, for what afterward was undoubtedly a painful time of eating crow and heartfelt repentance for breaking their vows to never deny Him.
And what about the streaker on the sidelines? And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body, and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked (vs. 51-52). The man's identity is never mentioned, and if I were in his shoes I'd be glad of it. Nothing more is said of him, so we can only speculate about what emotional trauma he must’ve needed to work through. Not only had he helplessly looked on while Jesus was arrested, but he witnessed the disciples scattering like sparks from a fire. What were his thoughts when Jesus’ accusers then noticed him in the shadows? When he barely escaped their manhandling? Did they pursue him? How far did terror drive him? How many dark streets of Jerusalem did he streak through, with barking dogs marking his progress, before he found covering? Then came the shame. He, too, had been offended and deserted Jesus in His hour of need.
As the time of Jesus’ return approaches, let’s pray that we not be caught off guard because we don't understand what He forewarned must happen in these end times—the perils (Matthew 24), the heavens and earth shaken as His Kingdom comes and His wrath is poured out on His enemies (Isaiah 13), the persecutions (Luke 6:22). May we by God's grace not become that streaker in the dark hours ahead because we became offended. That as earnest watchers for Jesus’ coming, we keep ourselves clothed with Christ lest we walk naked and they see our shame.