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Why is a man fleeing naked from the garden of Gethsemane?

Strange as some things are in the Bible, they all have a meaning and message to share. Today our question is about a little verse in Mark 14:51-52 that tells of a young man that fled naked from the garden of Gethsemane at the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Who is this guy? Why is he there? Why was he naked? Let’s take a look at this strange scene and try to make some sense out of it.
In Mark we read:
“46 Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. 47 And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then they all forsook Him and fled. 51 Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” Mark 14:46-52

Let’s take a shortcut to the answer to our question today—though we cannot know with absolute certainty, most scholars believe that the naked man in Mark 14:51-52 was the writer of the gospel himself—Mark. The reason for this answer comes from the fact that Mark is the only gospel that records this strange story—and it comes straight out of the blue sky! This is also supported by the fact that we know that John Mark's mother lived in Jerusalem (Acts 12), and so it is possible that Mark was wakened by the noise of the soldiers leaving the city during the night of Passover to arrest Jesus. After all, the man was described as wearing only a linen sheet—the typical sleeping garments of this time period. The scenario would go something like this—Mark left his mother's home and followed the soldiers to the Garden. Once he was grabbed, Mark ran away naked, leaving his linen sheet in the hands of soldiers. It seems that Mark recorded the account in his gospel, perhaps as a form of confession for having abandoned the Lord in this way.

But there is a bigger view here in this passage about what exactly happened in the garden of Gethsemane. That is, this man running naked away from the arrest of Jesus is a dramatic picture of the terror the disciples felt as their Master and Lord was taken into custody before their eyes. Can you imagine how frightening that moment was? Peter’s swipe at the head of one of the soldiers with a small sword had put every one of the disciples in jeopardy of being arrested and charged. So instead of staying with Jesus, the disciples decide it was better to run away from Jesus than to lose their lives with Him. Only after the Lord was resurrected did they understand that all these things brought about the fulfillment of the Scriptures.

Oh, my brother and sister in Christ, may we not shrink back from following after the Lord Jesus wherever He leads!

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