A Fugitive Eyewitness
Mark 14:50-52 features the second eyewitness in my sermon series in Lent: a fugitive. Unlike the faithful woman with an alabaster box, this eyewitness reflects a realistic picture of a disciple. He’s the young man running away naked when Jesus is arrested. Our word “fugitive” comes from the Greek word used here: “fuego” or “to flee.” This guy is not alone; in fact, he was just following in the footsteps of all the disciples. “All the disciples ran away and fled” (Mark 14:50).
If the first disciples did this surely we do, too. Like Jesus’s inner circle, we run not because we’re against Jesus. As David Rhoads suggests, we flee because we’re not entirely for him either. Jesus asked us to be with him, go out in his name, and follow him (Mark 3:14). When the going gets tough, the followers flee. Even women at the empty tomb do the same (Mark 16:8).
What’s a follower of Jesus to do? If we’re susceptible to the same problem, then we admit how vulnerable we really are. Even after we trust in Jesus as Christians, we desperately need him to deal with our fears. In Lent, we use this season to stop running and trust in Jesus’s grace to catch us. The wonderfully good news about Jesus’s arrest is that when he is led away to his trial, he is actually saving us from ourselves. He catches us on the run and prevents something worse from happening—a life lived trying to avoid our secrets. We stop, name what we’ve tried to hide from him, we accept the truth of our lives, we receive his forgiveness, and we go all in for the one who has given his all for us.
This young man in Marks wears only a linen cloth. It’s the same material that the women wrapped around Jesus’s dead body in the grave. The linen is the same material presumably that baptismal candidates wore on Easter Sunday after they were baptized into the church. From arrest, to tomb, to baptism, Jesus stays with us. If baptized followers of Jesus struggled to stay with Jesus, we do too. We learned what it is like to be rescued by Jesus and trust him through the trials.