The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. Mark 14, verses 46-52.
Bible scholars think the young naked man was John Mark: the same Mark whose book we’ve been examining. If it isn’t him, then why include this strange and, frankly, inappropriate passage in the narrative? No matter, I think John Mark’s reaction would be the same one that each of us would have had if we had been present when Jesus was arrested?
“You think I’d go running naked into the night after the church security tried to arrest me?” Yep. I’m saying exactly that. Don’t worry or feign modesty because I’m right there beside you, streaking towards Jerusalem.
Think about it. We’ve been following Jesus for awhile. We aren’t part of His close inner circle, but we’ve been following Him long enough to put our faith in Him, to know that He’s got big things planned. Just what those ‘big things’ are we can’t really say, but we want to be around when they happen. You see, He’s been preaching truth and love and endurance and facing up to your problems. Nobody we know of has ever spoken like this, and based on what we know from what we’ve seen and heard, we agree that He is the Christ: the Holy One of God promised since the time of our ancient forefathers. He has finally come, at long last, to restore our nation in more ways than one. We adore Him and believe He knows us fully.
Just five days ago, we walked in the glorious procession behind Him as He entered Jerusalem like an arriving King. Yet He didn’t lead military columns or come in to vanquish the local government. Instead, He went to the Temple and did what we’ve wanted to do for a long time: clean it out; it’s sort of like what we wish He would do to Congress. Anyway, ever since then, He has been teaching, and dining with close friends, and He’s been different; passionate, insightful, wise and kind, but different. If Jesus is the Christ we’ve been waiting for, then things aren’t going down the way we always thought they would.
Now come these armed guards, sent by the temple priests, and they’ve arrested Jesus. They’ve tied Him up and are frog-walking Him away. They’ve beaten some of His Disciples, and a swordfight broke out. When the guards came for you and me, we didn’t put up much of a fight because we were confused, addled, scared. Instead, we struggled to break free and then get away but lost our clothes. Where they’ve taken Jesus, we don’t know. All we know is that something bad is going down and it’s going down quick.
So on that chilly Judean Good Friday morning, if I were in Gethsemene at all, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I was running away with John Mark. Naked, exposed and very afraid.
Lord, forgive my naked fear. Forgive me for not standing by You, for running away when You needed me most.
Read Mark 14, verses 53-65.