Originally posted in Rabyd Theologian 2.0 on November 27th, 2009
On to the New Testament, the first real reference to nakedness in the New Testament is in Matthew 25 where Jesus is blessing the sheep and cursing the goats. In all cases, though the thought is on naked as vulnerable and destitute. A naked person in he ancient world meant either very poor or a slave. Jesus reminds us to cloth the naked and protect them from this vulnerability.
There is one case of nakedness in all three of the first gospels but it is indirect — the Man possessed with Legion is said Mark to be ‘clothed’ although no reference is made (at least in the NASB) to him being naked. It is assumed because of the reference to him being clothed. In this case nakedness is indicative of how nothing was shameful to the demon possessed man. Once healed he gets clothes on to show he is back to being normal.
The second reference is in Mark 14:51-52 — where John-Mark (it is believed) covers himself with a sheet to go to the garden with Jesus and as they arrest Mark he let’s go of the sheet they grab and flees into the night naked. I am going to tell you this sounds like someone who was used to sleeping naked, who is roused from sleep and asked if he wants to come the Garden of Gethsemane – he agrees but does not even dress – he simply wraps the blanket around himself. There is nor moral statement of whether this was right or wrong just simply a statement of the facts.
Luke makes two references to women’s breasts — Luke 11:27-28 in which a woman speaks of the blessedness of Jesus’ mother’s breasts and womb and Luke 23:28-30 where Jesus blesses the breasts that never nursed. In both cases the issue is the nurturing power of women’s breasts through nursing. No sexual reference is indicated at all. Jesus also does not seem embarrassed in either case to make references to this part of a woman’s body or to hear it referenced.
Before I close the gospels and go on to Acts, it should be noted that when the Romans crucified people (Male or female) they striped the person completely naked. We try to sterilize this with Jesus by always giving him a loin cloth or something, but truth be told he would have been naked on the cross.
Acts has only one reference to nakedness and it is Acts 19:16 where the seven sons of Sceva flee stripped naked — They are totally humiliated and dishonored.
What all this shows us is that nakedness is about being shamed, humiliated, being vulnerable or destitute.
Next: Nakedness and the Rest of the New Testament