The naked man – Mark 14:51-52
“Guards, catch that scantily-clad disciple!”
“Sir, we tried. He got away. We got this though.”
“Great. You arrested his underwear. Good job.”
So that part isn’t in there and 100% of scholars that I consulted on the issue agree that it isn’t in there.
But there is this “certain young man” wearing what seem to be his pajamas and when the guards catch him, he ditches the PJs and takes off.
Based on Mark’s reference to him as “a certain young man” and the word used for “follower”, he was known and is presumed to be a disciple and probably one that we know. Quite a few scholars assume that the disciple is John Mark himself. Either way, the writer may be protecting the man’s identity for some reason, or it could be that his identity beyond “follower” simply isn’t important.
What is important is that he was a follower. Jesus took the disciples out to the garden and asked them to “sit here while I pray”. Then he took Peter, James and John farther into the garden.
Maybe this unnamed disciple stayed back with the rest. Maybe he followed Jesus. We’re not really sure. Whoever he is, though, he is the last one to stick around. The rest of the disciples bail in verse 50 but this man find courage where others gave in to fear. This man follows just a little bit further.
He follows close enough to be nearly captured, to be touched by the guards.
The most faithful follower in this particular story is anonymous and ends up naked, running for his life.
He brings nothing extraneous with him to the garden, not even clothes. He doesn’t stop to get dressed along the way. This is significant in a culture where nakedness was abhorred. He doesn’t care who sees him or what judgments they form. All of that is secondary to following Jesus.
We talk about God accepting us just as we are and then we cover ourselves with everything from shame and fig leaves to doubt and three-piece suits. Often, we lack the courage to follow Jesus the way this man did. We bring our baggage when he tells us we don’t need it. We are afraid to enter the garden without shields and protection and walls. Once we have all that stuff, we do exactly what most of the disciples did. It gets hard and we look for a way out. It gets uncomfortable and we run. We see guards, we encounter opposition, we choke.
What would it take to follow Jesus like this young man? What would it take to follow without the trappings that ensnare so many? What would it take to pursue a Jesus encounter with nothing but faith and underwear? What would it take to enter into this moment with so little of ourselves so that we can receive so much?
Do you have the courage to stick around after everybody else is gone?
Do you dare to come with empty hands even if it means having nothing to defend yourself?
Even then, are you willing to lose what little you have left so that you can follow that much more closely?
Bring only what is necessary.
Follow dangerously close.