Anglican Morning Devotion for 21 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50And they all forsook him, and fled. 51And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:47-52: all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Today’s text offers a touch of mystery to our understanding of the young man who followed Jesus wearing only a linen cloth – much like the kind of cloth that was used to enshroud the dead or was used as a hasty garment worn temporarily at the awakening hour.
The specific identity of this young man cannot be proven by Scripture and is a subject of widely varying speculation. Though I do not like to speculate on what the Scriptures ‘MIGHT’ mean (without sound evidence), I will discuss the most common claim by theologians that this young man was John Mark. The reasons given are not completely convincing. But I will provide a brief explanation of their reasoning below:
- The mother of John Mark had a house in Jerusalem which could have been very near to Gethsemane. It is speculated that John Mark could have heard the disturbance and went to investigate – so hurriedly that he only wrapped a linen sheet about him.
- It is a bit irregular for the Gospels to include any description of an event without providing details. But none are given in the case of the young man. The Gospel writers often included some point about themselves but mentioned not their own names out of modesty. The evangelists are not accustomed to mention their own names when any mark of favor or any good deed is recorded. They did not seek publicity or notoriety. For example, in the Gospel of St. John, John the Apostle declines to give his own name as the one leaning on the bosom of Christ: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23)
- Lastly, the impetuous nature of Mark could recommend him as the youth who followed closely that night of betrayal. Mark followed Paul and Barnabas closely in the secure islands of the Mediterranean, but refused to follow into the more treacherous regions of the interior.
Well, that is the end of the most convincing argument that this young man could have been Mark. It may have been, or it may not have been, but the greater lesson to us is the nature of the event and its spiritual ramifications to those of faith. Nakedness implies the natural sinfulness of man. Adam sinned in the Garden at Eden and was shamed by his nakedness (sin) which God symbolically covered with the blood offering of an innocent animal. We bring nothing into this world at birth but our souls that also belong to God. When we die, we take nothing of the world with us. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21 & Eccl 5:15)
Had God not provided a covering for Adam’s sin (nakedness), and for our own sinfulness (nakedness), we would remain lost in sin. But God offers that pure White Robe of Righteousness (imputed) to His elect so that we do not go before Him at the Last Day naked.
I consider the greater message of the young man who followed Christ (perhaps impetuously and out of curiosity), to be very much like many professing Christians of our day. They follow up to a point, but when the going gets tough, they fall away and flee in their nakedness. The young man, being young, had many future days to approach Christ anew with renewed spirit and resolve it would seem. As God said to Jerusalem: “And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood.” (Ezekiel 16:22) We all stand naked before the Lord unless we have received that Robe of Righteousness like unto the one given the Prodigal Son.
Hurriedly the young man came, and hurriedly he departed. He lacked sustaining faith in his heart to stand by his seeming attraction to the Lord. Do we have that sustaining faith, or do we go away naked as do all who depart the Lord.?