Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's with the naked guy in Gethsemane? - Working theory on Mark 14:51-52

Do you ever come across any passages of the Bible that make you laugh and cause you to wonder why the heck they're there? I love it when stories like these come up, because they're not things you expect. Anybody who says that the Bible is boring clearly hasn't made the attempt to really read it.

I've been reading through a combination of Psalms and Mark in my devotional time, and recently read through Jesus' arrest scene in the garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14. But I had to stop after verses 51-52 because they're so strange. I know I've read them before, but I've never really spent much time thinking about it. This comes right after Jesus' speech upon his arrest and the 12 disciples (other than Judas) flee.

"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." (NASB)

THAT'S IT! The next scene is where Jesus is brought before the high priest and is mocked and accused. What's going on with this naked guy running around the garden? I literally wrote in my Bible "LOL. Why here?" (I told this to my pastor and he said it's like I'm texting God). If I use all of the study tools I know, I don't think I'll get a solid answer. The Greek will still say that he's naked, and if I did a structural outline of the passage, it still probably wouldn't make sense. I haven't read any commentaries, but the text is so random I doubt they would have any solid explanation. One of my professors from APU thinks that the young man is Mark himself. It's a detail only he would have known about. None of the other Gospels have this story. So why is it here? When I read this a few nights ago I probably spent a half an hour trying to think up an explanation. So here's my working theory.

If you read through Mark, it becomes pretty clear that the 12 disciples aren't all that bright. They don't get what Jesus means when he teaches them things, they never can make sense out of the miracles he does, and he repeatedly asks them at different points, "Do you still have no faith?" In short, the disciples are morons while they're with Jesus (keep in mind, I don't see this as a bad thing. I actually find it comforting because of how often I feel like I don't get Jesus or I miss what he's about). So, maybe this is Mark's way of saying, "this is how dumb these guys are" (if Mark is the naked guy, maybe this is him trying to include himself in the stupidity).

So maybe the young guy starts running around naked, because he thinks that this will distract the soldiers long enough for Jesus to make his getaway! Maybe he's thinking, "Jesus, get out of here, I got this. Hey guys, I'm naked, just try and catch me! Wheeee!" Meanwhile Jesus is shaking his head thinking, "I spent three years with these guys, and this is the best they can come up with." He breathes a heavy sigh and shakes his head, knowing that he can laugh with his disciples about this when he sees them in three days.

So, that's my theory on this strange passage. Not very profound, no deep spiritual truths, but sometimes really funny stuff pop ups when you're reading scripture (especially Mark). We might has well have a little fun with it as we're reading, enjoying God's sense of humor for including stuff like this in His Word. Have fun with that one! If you have another explanation, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Music Part 3: Inspired to worship because of Jazz and Sting

I'm still watching the Ken Burn's Jazz documentary on DVD. Only made it through 2 out of 10 discs, so it's slow going but quite enjoyable. One of the things I've found so enjoyable in watching the documentary about the development of jazz music is how it inspires me as a musician. I've been a fan of jazz music for roughly 8 years, and listen to it partially because it challenges me to play better. In fact, one of the things I look for when I listen to certain artists and bands is how their music inspires me to be a better drummer. This is essentially one of the major reasons why the Dave Matthews Band is my favorite group - I will never be able to play as well as DMB's drummer Carter Beauford, or even be able to play exactly like him. BUT, that doesn't mean that I can't continually push myself to practice harder and incorporate beats, fills, rolls, and patterns that he uses into my own style or with the groups that I play in. I really only play in worship bands, and I really enjoy it. Part of what I try to bring to the table is a different feel or different types of fills and patterns that one wouldn't expect, but which still work for the song and potentially enhance it. I'm greatly indebted to Carter and DMB, as well as David Garibaldi of Tower of Power, Stevie Wonder, Dave Weckl (famous jazz/fusion drummer), and many others, because I look to their playing styles for inspiration and ideas for how to play better.

It's amazing to me how much music inspires the various parts of our lives. Different songs and genres can bring about so many types of emotions - love, joy, anger, frustration, excitement, passion, and so on. My mood can change radically because I play a certain song or band, or a song can help me express something that I had been feeling but was unable to articulate. But I think most importantly, music should inspire us to worship God as the one who created music and endowed people with the ability to play it, and for all of us to enjoy it. I'm not speaking strictly of Christian music or worship music in this case, but those both apply. Here's a story to illustrate what I mean.

About four years ago when I was living in Santa Cruz, I was working at Twin Lakes Church and got to play fairly regularly with Rob Patterson, the worship leader of the Genesis service (currently he leads the worship music at Faith Community Church in downtown Santa Cruz, an emerging church plant that is being backed by Twin Lakes). During that year, Sting went on tour for the "Sacred Love" album. My dad and I went and ended up finding Rob and his wife on the field at Shoreline Ampitheatre. We all loved the concert, and as Rob and I talked about it in the following weeks, he said that he enjoyed it so much he kept wanting to raise his hands in worship! But, he restrained himself, saying "No, I can't do that. This is Sting, not God." But he went to say that in those moments he would pray "Thank you Lord for creating Sting and giving him the musical abilities that he has, regardless of whether or not he acknowledges you as the source of those gifts. At least I know that they came from you and I can praise you for that."

Imagine that! Being inspired to praise God because of a Sting concert! My friend Rob and I were inspired because of Sting's music, and it challenged us not only to be better musicians, but to enjoy the fact that God created music and wants us to use it to celebrate Him and the life He has given us.

I feel like I could go on on and on about this because of how enjoyable music is and the different things it inspires. But rather than reading what I have to say about it, I'd rather hear other people's ideas. How does music inspire you? What kinds of music do you find inspirational, and what does that inspiration lead to? How would define inspiration within music? What do you feel compelled to do or to be when you listen to the music that you do? What do you need from music, and how does music speak to your emotions or help you articulate them? Does music have to be "Christian" or "worship music" in order for it to praise our Creator? How does music inspire you to think about God and follow Christ more intimately? Please, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on any of this.