Do you like a good mystery. The mystery man of the Bible:Mark 14:51-52. Who is he? Why is he only wearing a sheet? Why did he flee? Some see in this young man symbolism, a figurative character representing the resurrected Christ escaping from his burial cloth; to me that doesn’t make any sense, because what would running away in fear have to do with the risen Christ? I accept this as a literal story. To add to the mystery, I read the Greek word for young
This is the last of Nobodies of the Gospels series. I’m going to tell you who I think the young man of chapter 14 is, and more importantly, what we learn. Anyone have any guesses?... Mark! The author of the book. There is no such thing as a nobody in God’s world. Lot’s of people are unnamed, but they all have names and are real people with real stories. I believe this is Mark. It’s Mark’s way of embedding himself in the story: “I was there.” Maybe a little bit like Alfred Hitchcock who has a brief appearance in every movie. But Mark’s appearance has a purpose.
The implicit message: I ran away. I fled. And you can do better than me. Isn't that the message we want to give to those around us: I make mistakes, I lack in certain areas, and you can succeed in areas in which I have falled down.
How do we explain Mark with nothing but a sheet so far from home? it was cold… When Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, it was somewhere around midnight in late March or early April, and it was cold enough so that two or three hours later, Peter was grateful to warm his hands at the fire. So why was Mark out there in a sheet. No more than 50 degrees. Here’s the best guess:
Perhaps Mark (aka John Mark) was sleeping in the house where Jesus ate the Last Supper, which may have been his mother’s house (cf Acts 12:12). Judas Iscariot may have returned there first to betray Jesus. If that is correct, it would fit that Mark would be roused, grab a sheet to cover himself, and rushed to follow Jesus to Gethsemane. The description of a young man would fit Mark, for the description is a young healthy strong man perhaps 15-25. No-one seems surprised he is hanging around, so that would fit Mark. Yesterday Pastor Jack had a presentation to some of us here in the church, and there was a young man, a youth from the neighborhood, hanging out; it seemed so natural.
If this was Mark, it’s Mark’s way of saying, I was there. And I fled, with the shame of my nakedness, my fears got to me. I ran away. Mark was afraid. Mark shows us what not to do. So does Peter. Jesus is the preeminent example. All of us face a lot of fears: Laying in bed at night dreading the events that will take place on the next day? Your heart skips a beat when you hear things like:
* you'll get your report card tomorrow…
* you'll probably need surgery…
* we’re going to have to start letting some people go…
* he might not make it through the night…
You are afraid of the outcome. Yet you cannot escape. How do you handle it when you anticipate things happening you don’t want?
Did Jesus ever fear tomorrow? Yes. We see it in Mark 14. Mark was there. He was a witness to how Jesus handled fear. And Mark ran away, naked. You can do better. It’s ok to say to your children do what I say, not what I did, if you are admitting that what you did was not the best way of handling things. I know parents who have said to sons be a better husband than I was to your mother. Mark is saying I was there, I watched, I learned, I should have known better, but I ran away.
What do we learn when Facing Dreadful Moments?
1. It’s OK to be afraid (Mark 14:32-34)
It’s not always easy to be brave when you face something dreadful. But Jesus
demonstrates that it’s also not always possible to escape fear.
a. It’s not a sin to be scared.
Jesus leaves takes Peter, James and John and goes a little further. But as He walks with three of His closest followers, they notice that something is wrong with Jesus. He is visibly upset, deeply distressed. Jesus tells them His soul is so full of horror that it threatens to take His life. Jesus is scared. He knows the plan of God, but now that this plan is about to become reality, it fills Him with terror. Jesus was not a coward, but the things that would soon happen to Him were almost too much for Him. Jesus’ fear is meant to show you and I that in our hour of dread, it’s not a sin to be scared. Jesus did what you and I should do when we get scared:
b. Go to your Father.
Where did Jesus go when He was scared? The same place any child goes when they are frightened: to His Father. The reason Jesus came to this Garden was to seek His Father’s help to face His coming death. He needs His Father’s comfort, His Father’s guidance, and His Father’s assurance to strengthen Him to go through with His Father’s plan. I love this story: One night, while my young son, Ryan, was sleeping, a storm began brewing outside. After a loud clap of thunder, I heard Ryan wake up and run to find me. When I tucked him back into bed, he asked me to stay with him until he fell asleep. As I lay there with him, I realized Ryan hadn’t asked me to make the storm go away, but to stay with him. How many times, I wondered, have I asked God to take away the storms of life, when instead, I need to ask Him to stay with me and help me weather the storms more peacefully! – (Kim Sherer)
It’s ok to be scared, and when you are afraid, whether it be nervousness about a life change, or uncontrolable situations, it’s proper to go to your heavenly Father.
2. Pray (Mark 14:35-40)
It is instinctive to pray when we get into trouble. As one person said, "Even atheists sometimes catch themselves saying, 'Oh God!'" Prayer is the purpose for Jesus’ visit to Gethsemane.
Ask for deliverance but desire God’s will. Verses 35-36, voice a combination of Jesus' best solution but a recognition that God’s will is greater. We must accept God's will, not in the sense of fatalism, but in the sense of purpose and recognition that we may not have all understanding. There is nothing wrong with asking God for more comfort, or to ask God to make someone you love healthy instead of sick. Of course we will ask God to spare our life from death when threatened. At the same time, when we pray, there has to be a deeper, stronger desire for God’s will to be done in our lives, even when His will means that which we may not choose.
3. Surrender. (Mark 14:41-52)
There’s something about surrender that goes against our grain. We want to win; we want to be in charge. Like brothers and sisters who refuse to give up the argument. I don’t like it when I am forced to admit that I am not in control of my life. Yet when it comes to God’s will- surrender is the only proper response. Jesus not only prayed for God’s will- He surrendered to God’s will. When Judas and his cohorts came to arrest Jesus, He did not run, but faced them bravely, because He had already given Himself to do God’s will. How do you surrender to God’s will?
a. God has a plan. (Mark 14:43-45, 49)
From Judas’ wicked kiss of betrayal to the abandonment of His disciples, God had already revealed His plan for Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. That does not relieve Judas nor anyone else involved here of their guilt. But it does demonstrate that God was in control of the situation. Jesus says in v. 49 the Scriptures must be fulfilled. He was reminding everybody that God’s Word in the OT has already laid out the map for what would happen here.
b. Don’t fight. (Mark 14:46-48)
Don't be like Peter, who put his hand to the sword.
c. Don’t run. (Mark 14:51-52) Enter Mark, or an unnamed young man, who I think is Mark, who flees the scene naked: "You can do better than me." Even if this is not Mark, even if the young man is completely anonymous, the scripture is saying that running away was not the answer. This young man reminds us that you should not run away from God’s will, even when it seems overwhelming.
Giving up is essential if you want to follow Jesus. God has given us all a free will. you can choose to follow God’s plan, or go your own way. When God speaks to your heart, you can respond in surrender, or you can fight it. You can say, “No.” You can run, and say, “Not right now.” God’s will is what is best for you. His plan is always the plan that will lead to joy, peace, and life.