On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
The Come-Back Disciple
July 6, 2014
Then everyone deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. (Mark 14:50-52, NIV)
At the Last Supper, just hours earlier, Jesus told His disciples they would all fall away, that the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7 would be fulfilled: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27).
The Passion of Jesus finds us at the intersection of God’s sovereignty and human freedom. Greater minds than ours have attempted to resolve the interplay between these two choices — God’s and man’s. The Bible does not attempt to resolve it, however. Both realities are laid side by side (Acts 2:23,24).
We experience moments when we cannot interpret the significance of an event at the time it happens. We can only look back later and gain perspective. Thus, at the time of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane, the disciples all desert Him and flee.
Much later in their lives, all would be willing to suffer and die for Him, but not at this moment. That would only come when they knew “the rest of the story.” Don’t make the mistake of the disciples in assuming the worst during a powerless moment in your life, a moment when you even feel God is powerless. God is working out purposes you do not presently see.
The disciples deserted Jesus and fled. So did a young man.
Have you noticed that the Gospel writers never name themselves within the text of their Gospels? The superscription giving authorship was placed there by others later on.
However, verses 51 and 52 probably give us an autobiographical remembrance by the author. These two verses are found in no other Gospel, and it’s most likely that the young man who flees naked into the night is none other than John Mark.
John Mark was not one of the Twelve. He may have been a teenager at the time, curious about unfolding events as the group left the Upper Room following the Last Supper. Since he’s only dressed in a linen garment, the assumption can be made that he was prepared for bed, but surreptitiously decided to follow Jesus. In Gethsemane, none of the disciples had hands laid on them, so we can also assume John Mark hung around just a little too long and was grabbed. But he was agile and got away, minus his garment.
We know John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), that his mother was Mary who had a house in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), that he accompanied Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey but deserted them (Acts 13:3,13), that Paul refused to take him on the second missionary journey thereby producing a split from Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41), but that years later from prison Paul asked for Mark to come because Mark was helpful to him (2 Timothy 4:11).
Think of it! John Mark twice ran away from danger. Once, when Jesus was arrested. And, secondly when the going got difficult on the first missionary journey! But, in the end, he’s no longer a runaway. He heads straight to Rome where Paul is held in Nero’s prison, and where great danger awaits.
Is there hope for you if you have failed the Lord in the past? Absolutely! The man who failed twice is chosen by the Holy Spirit to write the second Gospel! God did not give up on him, and He doesn’t give up on you!
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark