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author on May 19th, 2010

Mark 14:51-52Mark 14:51-52
English: World English Bible - WEB

51 A certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth thrown around himself, over his naked body. The young men grabbed him, 52 but he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

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is a curious passage of scripture. The gospel writer is describing the arrest of Jesus. It begins the series of events which led to Jesus’ unjust trial, conviction, execution by crucifixion, and ultimate resurrection. Yet these two verses, in the midst of all Jesus’ followers deserting Him, describe a seemingly meaningless, if not almost comical, sidebar.

What do we know about this man?

  • He is young
  • He’s under-dressed
  • The guards tried to seize him
  • He escaped into the night naked

So this young man, probably a teenager, is out late at night following Jesus and gets caught up in His arrest. The guards who came to arrest Jesus saw him, it seems they grabbed him by his garment and he wriggled out of it to get away. I’ve got lots of questions:

  • Why was he there?
  • Was he actually with Jesus, or following Jesus and His disciples secretly?
  • Why was he wearing “nothing but a linen garment” (Mark 14:51Mark 14:51
    English: World English Bible - WEB

    51 A certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth thrown around himself, over his naked body. The young men grabbed him,

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  • And why did these guards want him if they already had Jesus and seemingly allowed the disciples to go?

There are probably several theories about this, but I find one in particular to be most likely: John-Mark, the author of this Gospel, was describing what happened to himself. Mark would have been too young to be an actual disciple, but it appears he knew Peter through his mother (Acts 12:12Acts 12:12
English: World English Bible - WEB

12 Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.

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), and Peter considered him a “son” (1 Peter 5:131 Peter 5:13
English: World English Bible - WEB

13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you; and so does Mark, my son.

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). If this is true, this passage is Mark’s testimony – his stamp of authenticity – that he was a witness to the things he wrote in this Gospel.

Though we’ll probably never know the actual circumstances, we do know that if it’s in the scriptures there is a reason for it – and we can learn something from it. Ask yourself, if you are a follower of Jesus, do you follow Him in secret so you will not have to explain yourself to critics? Or, are you prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you when you are asked? (1 Peter 3:151 Peter 3:15
English: World English Bible - WEB

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, with humility and fear:

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Imagine Mark’s fear of these guards – a young man who simply followed the teachings of a good and wise man assaulted by large, armed guards who would abuse him for nothing more than his association with Jesus! None of us face that sort of decision today, yet many of us still refuse to take a stand.

In two weeks we’ll take a closer look, as even one of Jesus’ most devoted disciples falls short.