Escaping Naked: Mark 14:43-52

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As we continue our journey through Mark’s gospel and through many of the key events this gospel includes, we come to the beginning of what might be among the darkest events in this gospel, specifically the betrayal and arrest of Jesus.

However, while many gospels include the details of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest on the night before His crucifixion, only Mark’s gospel includes two verses describing something that might be a little shocking to some people.

With this forewarning, let’s read this passage, and uncover some things we can learn from what happened, and from what Mark chose to include in his gospel that none of the other gospel writers included.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 14, and we will read from the New Living Translation. Starting in verse 43, Mark describes Jesus’ betrayal by saying:

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

In these last two verses, we read about one of Jesus’ lesser-known followers running away naked. This detail that is only found in Mark’s gospel is both interesting and very unique. This has led some Bible scholars and commentators to conclude that Mark, the author of this gospel, was that young man who ran away naked. This young man is not described as a disciple, and I believe this lack of a detail or description also supports the theory this was Mark.

I don’t have any reason to doubt this conclusion as it seems plausible, but I do also find it a little humorous that if you are going to include yourself in the details of a significant event, this might not be the best way to do so. Imagine your claim to fame as being the follower of Jesus who escaped the garden naked. While this might make this gospel less believable, in some peoples’ eyes, this type of detail aids to this being a record of history, specifically what actually happened, and not some fiction or summary that is edited to only include the good details.

However, Mark’s inclusion of this detail also tells us something else. Because Mark included this detail, we can know that the mob, while being primarily interested in arresting Jesus, was also interested in arresting everyone else present in Jesus’ group of followers. Knowing that every one of Jesus’ followers had an arrest warrant out on them helps frame why they were extra nervous in Jerusalem over that weekend, and why they spent most of their time behind locked doors.

When we place the detail that the mob likely wanted to arrest every one of Jesus’ followers, and place it next to the verses describing Jesus’ followers deserting Him and this young man escaping naked, we discover that even while Jesus appeared to be losing, God was still present. Even when evil seemed to have the upper hand, God was in control and God was protecting those present.

Another gospel writer includes the detail that Jesus tells the mob to let Jesus’ followers go. However, while Jesus makes this command, this statement is attributed to fulfilling a prophecy more than being a command that would have been expected to be obeyed. However, it is amazing that Jesus giving a command like this that is actually obeyed by His enemies is testament enough that Jesus is extraordinary.

Nothing in this event suggests that the mob would have even been interested in following through with Jesus’ command to let His followers go. The most logical action to crush a movement is to arrest and kill the leader and all the followers unwilling to give up their beliefs. Arresting the leader and letting the followers escape is illogical at best.

However, because all of Jesus’ followers escaped, we can know that God was with them during Jesus’ arrest, and we can know today that regardless of what we face in this life that comes against our faith, God is with us and He is in control.

When we face challenges in our lives and challenges against our faith, remember that God is with us and that even when evil appears to have the upper hand, God is in control. While not all of us might escape with our clothing intact, we can trust that God is still with us. In the challenges that we face in this world, we might even face death, but whenever death comes our way, we can know and trust that God is ready and willing to resurrect His followers who have endured to the end (as one of our previous podcast episode’s focused in on). And God is more than willing to give us a new body, new clothing, and a new home together with Him in heaven when we place our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Jesus!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally and purposefully seek God first in your life and trust Him regardless of what Satan, culture, or the world wants to pressure us into doing or giving up. Know that the rewards God offers will easily outlast the reward the world offers us and the rewards of sin. Remember and trust that when evil looks like it has the upper hand, God is still in control, God is still with us, and God will see us through these challenges. Remember that for followers of Jesus, death is merely a pit stop on the path leading into eternity.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God each and every day. Don’t let other people filter the Bible for you. Choose to study it for yourself and make up your own mind about it. While skeptics may challenge you to do this, they expect you to reject the Bible because that is what they think you should do. Study and make up your own mind about the Bible after trying God’s way out for yourself. You may be surprised to find what skeptics are missing in the pages of God’s Word and His truth.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 40: In one of the few details only Mark includes in his gospel, discover an amazing truth about what happened during Jesus’ arrest and proof that God was present during this event even if it may not have felt like it at the time.

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