Jump Start #3203
Jump Start # 3203
Mark 14:51-52 “A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.”
On Tuesdays I have been teaching both a morning and an evening class on the book of Mark. We are at the end and it has been a great study. Our verse today comes from the time when Judas brought the guards and Jesus was arrested. Peter swung a sword and nearly killed someone. Jesus restored a severed ear. Jesus is bound and led away. And, in all of that commotion comes our verse. It’s only found in Mark and it has nothing to do with the story and it seems very odd for it to be placed there.
Many commentators believe our verse is about Mark. They think that Mark was the young man who was nearly grabbed and fled naked. The thought is that this places Mark at the scene and gives some credibility to what took place.
When this came up in our class, one person declared, “this must have been the first streaker in the world.” Later, another one from our class challenged me to write a Jump Start about that passage. I love challenges and here I go.
First, there are events in life that bring out all kinds of emotions. Here in the garden scene we find, confusion, anger, fear and uncertainty. Peter swinging. Judas kissing. Naked Mark running. Guards grabbing. And, Jesus, humbly being led away. What a furry of fast moving emotions and events.
There are times in our lives when things can be like this.
· The slowly passing of a loved one can be like that. Decisions have to be made. Tears flow. Family gathers. Sometimes those who have been there caring day and night for the loved one butt heads with those who just arrived. Differences in what ought to be done. Then in the process of the funeral, different ideas can lead to heated words being said. Then after the funeral, family members start taking what they want and a real civil war erupts.
· Even wonderful occasions such as weddings can bring out the worst in some people. Who is going to sit where? The bride is happily smiling. The mother is crying. The dad is stressing about how he is going to pay for all of this and why was it necessary to invite so many. A mixture of emotions.
And, it is often in those moments, that people see the best in us or the worst in us. Our attitudes, how flexible we are with our opinions, how kind we are towards others, how demanding or selfish we are become visible to everyone. Our lights can shine brightly or they can grow very dim at those moments.
Second, why was Mark only wearing a linen sheet? The events of Jesus arrest take place late in the night and maybe Mark came straight from his bed. We can wonder all day long about that but obviously, he wasn’t prepared to be in a crowd with others. Sometimes young people just don’t think things through very clearly. Did he not have time to put his clothes on? What did he think he would find when he went to the garden? Did he think Jesus would be there alone? The text tells us that there are a bunch of people there. The twelve apostles are there. The temple guard is there. Jesus is there. There may have been twenty to fifty people there. It is dark. There are torches. I expect when they saw Mark wearing a sheet, some laughed at him. And, as he ran off naked, embarrassed, I would suppose that more laughed.
If Mark came to help Jesus, he didn’t. This is why young people need parents to guide them. This is why a congregation needs the experience of shepherds to lead them. Not thinking things through can get us in trouble because of what we said. It can get us in trouble because of rash decisions that were made but not carefully considered. Showing up in a bedsheet or a linen, wasn’t the best decision.
Some ideas simply don’t fly. Some ideas can cause more trouble than any good that they do.
Third, we all have had embarrassing moments in our lives. Embarrassment has a way of letting the air out of our egos. I can connect to the linen sheet in our verse today. Something very close to that happened to me years ago. We had a trampoline that had a cover on it. One day, all the kids were off to school. My wife was off to work. And I was literally stepping in the shower when the phone rang. It was the older lady who lived behind us. The wind was blowing hard and the cover on the trampoline was nearly coming off. She was frantic that I do something. So I put on a robe, much like our Mark passage, with nothing else on. Went out and tied the cover tightly. Went to go back into the house and the door was locked. We did not have garage key pad. I did not have any keys hidden. My cell phone was in the house. I’m in my robe and trying to figure out what to do. I went to the older lady’s house, but she was already gone. The house next door was a young couple. So I went over there to borrow her cell phone. She invited me in. I told her, no, I’ll stay out here. I called my wife at work and told her that she needed to come home at once. She kept asking why and all I could tell her was that I was locked out. I didn’t want to say that I was wearing nothing but a robe because the young woman was standing right beside me.
After that, garage keypads, door keys hidden outside and always, always make sure the door is unlocked when I step out for a moment.
Being able to laugh at yourself and to learn from your mistakes is where life’s experiences and growth comes from. Embarrassing moments teach you things. You learn. You do better the next time. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously.
I doubt Mark was running around outside with just a linen sheet on after that. I expect he learned. The problem is when a person fails to learn. When a person goes through some embarrassing moment and they continue to repeat the same choices again.
Well, this hasn’t been too bad of a lesson taken from a naked man wearing only a linen.