It’s funny how a sacred text like the Bible can become so familiar, and still provide moments to make me think, ‘Wait a second. That’s always been there?!’
1. Mark 9:3
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.– Mark 9:2-3
In this scene, three disciples witness Jesus’ transfiguration – they see Christ in His divine glory. A description used to emphasize just how glorious Jesus looked? “His clothes became radiant . . . as no one on earth could bleach them.” The NASB puts it, “as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”
Apparently, the glory of God can be likened to an ethereal laundry service.
2. Song of Songs: The entire book
This entire book is literally an erotic love poem. I don’t know how or why, but so many Christians miss this. We have an entire sacred book devoted to a heated relationship. And some of us still flinch if we hear the word “sex.”
The eight chapters go back and forth as the Lover and Beloved speak – about missing each other, their bed, their mutual desire, enjoying each others’ *cough* company, and praising how hot the other one is.
Your hair is like a flock of goatsSong of Songs 4:1b-2
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
You’ve gotta love the romantic imagery favored by ancient poets. For historical reference, the Song of Songs is dated as a century or so older than the Illiad.
My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Take that, AP courses.
Reason #368 to take a break from studying: the Bible tells me so.
The book of Judges records some dark and scary times in Israel’s history. In one episode, the judge Ehud is appointed by God to rescue Israel. His job? To save the country from the oppressive King Eglon of Moab (do these names sound so Lord of the Rings or is that just me?)
Ehud has the privilege of being left-handed, allowing him to surprise-attack the king after getting him alone in his private chambers. Ehud thrusts a knife into Eglon’s stomach, where it is trapped by the king’s fat. Then he strolls out nonchalantly, locks the doors, and nobody thinks twice as he goes his way.
When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, “Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber.” And they waited till they were embarrassed.– Judges 3:24-25a
Eglon’s servants leave him privately in his chambers for so long, without finding out or attending to his fatal wound, simply because they thought he was going to the bathroom. The fact that the text adds “And they waited till they were embarrassed” just adds so much to this. Had they waited this long before?! How long, exactly, was long enough to be ashamed before checking in on the presumably occupied king?
And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.– Mark 14:51-52
Mark 14 contains some solemn scenes in the Gospels. Jesus has been praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for God to take this cup of suffering away (“Yet not what I will, but what you [God the Father] will,” vs. 36). It is here he is betrayed by Judas, and handed over to the Romans. Then these two odd little verses appear, and the account continues with Jesus’ trial. The high priest asks if He’s the Christ; “And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven'” (vs. 62). This blasphemy is taken as the excuse to execute Him.
Bookended between these somber events, we meet a young man who appears out of nowhere, apparently awakened from his sleep and following Jesus in his – makeshift pajamas? And before you know it, the Roman guards have threatened him and he’s running away in the buff. We know that Jesus had more followers than his main twelve disciples; perhaps this fellow was one of them. Some pastors suggest that he is Mark himself, in which he self-deprecatingly (and rather embarrassingly) defends his own eyewitness authority in reporting his Gospel.
In any case, I was certainly shocked when I first read it. How many times have I read my Bible? How many times have I read the Gospels? And somehow I never noticed this before?!
- When’s the last time you read your Bible, or your own sacred text, and found yourself amused?
- Let’s get into the real religio-philosophical questions here, people. Do you think God has a sense of humor?
ESV used for Scripture translations unless otherwise noted.