Streaking Through Scripture
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
Today’s reading seems more appropriate in a Ray Stevens song than in Scripture.
Oh yes, they call him the streak
Fastest thing on two feet
He’s as proud as he can be
Of his anatomy
He goin’ give us a peak
Every now and then you see on the news were some crazy, attention starved soul decides to interrupt some sporting event or large gathering by streaking through the crowd.
It’s shocking that it occurs at these events but even more to find it in the Bible but here it is, and it seems to come out of nowhere! On the night that Judas led the soldiers to arrest Jesus a young man was awoken from his sleep.
It appears that he did not sleep in pajamas but preferred his birthday suit.
So, in his rush to follow the crowd of soldiers he throws on a bed sheet and takes off behind them. One of the soldiers attemptings to arrest him, grabs the sheet but the young man took off running, leaving the sheet in the soldier’s hand.
Don’t look Ethal!!!
The Bible says he fled from them naked. I must pause and tell you that I truly love the Bible!
What happened to the young man? I suppose he went and hid in shame!
Mark is the only one to tell us this story, which is a bit odd isn’t it?
One would think it would have been memorable detail. What if not everybody saw it?
Mark doesn’t tell us who this young feller was but…
Church Tradition says that the streak in these verses was in fact John Mark himself.
That makes sense doesn’t it?
That would explain why this detail comes from nowhere in the context and mentioned by Mark alone. It would also explain why he didn’t record the name. I mean would you want your name included in the record, forever associating you with your shame?
Here is how I suspect it went down; Mark’s family owned the upper room where the disciples observed the first Lord’s supper so after they had left the young man went to sleep. Judas had left during the meal and had returned with the soldiers only to find that Jesus had gone to the garden to pray. John Mark probably was trying to warn the Lord and in his haste forgot his pants. Isn’t that a reasonable theory?
Let me make three observations concerning this little event.
1. He Followed Unconcerned
I can only assume that this young man loved Jesus. When the soldiers went to arrest the Lord, he cared more about Christ than clothes. Say what you will, he didn’t think about his appearance or his reputation!
Harry Ironsides spoke t a young man about getting saved and following Jesus.
The boy’s reply was, “Well, I would like to, but the boys will laugh at me”
Ironside said, “Young man, they can laugh you into Hell, but they can’t laugh you out”
It would serve us well to follow the Lord with a lot less concern for how we are going to look.
2. He Followed Unprepared
Jesus had stated many times leading up to his arrest that it would happen.
Anyone observant and attentive could have known what was about to happen and could have been prepared and properly dressed. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 but he should have been dressed. He should have been ready to go.
We must be careful of putting ourselves in positions where it is difficult to follow Jesus.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
3. He Fled Uncovered
In the end, the young man didn’t follow Jesus, he forsook him. He fled the garden unclothed and embarrassed.
Here we find a picture of mankind, a reminder of one of our first stories. You see, our problems started in a garden where Adam and Eve sinned. They suddenly realized their nakedness and hide behind bushes. God came and asked where they were but of course he knew, he only wanted them to know.
Here in the gospel of Mark we find that same old story, a garden, a naked man left to run away in shame.
Charles Spurgeon said about this passage,
Fly, then, I pray you; and though you be, like John Mark, unfit and unprepared, remember that you may come to Christ naked, for he can clothe you; you may come to Christ filthy, for he can wash you; you may come all unholy and defiled to Jesus, for he can put away your sin. Come!
Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father in the garden so that those like Mark and me can have their shame removed.
The Bible begins with shame in a garden, but it ends with a garden in glory because in a garden my Jesus conquered the grave.