Week of February 15
Who Was the Naked Boy In the Garden of Gethsemane?
And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
- Mark 14:51, 52
Just about the time Jesus was finished healing the ear of the servant of the high priest named Malchus, the Gospel of Mark tells us a naked young man was found in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 15:51,52 says, "And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked."
Who was this young man? Why was he following Jesus? Why was he naked? Why was he draped in a linen cloth instead of wearing normal clothes? And why was the Holy Spirit so careful to include this unique story in Mark's account of the Gospel? What is the significance of this event?
The key to identifying this young man lies in the "linen cloth" he had lightly draped about his body. The particular Greek word that is used for this "linen cloth" is used in only one other event in the New Testament - to depict the "linen cloth" in which the body of Jesus was wrapped for burial (see Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53). Thus, the only reference we have for this kind of cloth in the New Testament is that of a burial shroud used for covering a dead body in the grave.
Some scholars have tried to say this naked young man was Mark himself. They assume that when Mark heard about Jesus' arrest, he quickly jumped out of bed and dashed to the Garden of Gethsemane. But the Garden was remotely located, and no one could have run there so quickly. It is simply a physical impossibility.
Others have speculated that Mark threw off his clothes in an attempt to shock and distract the soldiers so Jesus could escape. This idea is preposterous. Others have tried with similar vain attempts to assert that this naked young man was the apostle John. But why would John be walking naked in the Garden of Gethsemane?
As I said, the answer to this naked young man's identity lies in the cloth he had wrapped around his body. You see, when a body was prepared for burial, it was washed, ceremonially cleaned, and buried naked in a linen cloth exactly like the one described here in the Gospel of Mark. Furthermore, the Garden of Gethsemane was situated on the side of the Mount of Olives. Toward the base of that mount is a heavily populated cemetery, with many of its graves going back to the time of Jesus.
When Jesus said, "I AM," the power that was released was so tremendous that it knocked the soldiers backward (see April 8). But evidently it also caused a rumbling in the local cemetery! When that blast of power was released, a young boy, draped in a linen burial cloth in accordance with the tradition of that time, crawled out from his tomb - raised from the dead!
The reason he "followed" Jesus was to get a glimpse of the One who had resurrected him. The word "followed" means to continuously follow. This tells us that this resurrected young man trailed the soldiers as they took Jesus through the Garden on the way to His trial. When the soldiers discovered the young man who was following Jesus, they tried to apprehend him. But when they reached out to grab him, he broke free from their grip and fled, leaving the linen cloth in their possession.
Today, I want you to reflect again on the amazing power that was active at the time of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. He later told Pilate, "…Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above..." (John 19:11). Indeed, there was so much power present that no one could have withstood Jesus had He chosen to resist. Jesus was not taken by the will of man; He was delivered by the will of the Father.
Think how marvelous it is that Jesus freely gave His life for you and me! So much power was at work in Him even at the time of His arrest that no one had sufficient power to forcibly take Him. The only reason Jesus was taken was that He chose to willingly lay down His life for you and for me. So take a little time today to stop and thank Him for being so willing to go to the Cross to take your sin on Himself!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, You are so amazing! How can I ever thank You enough for coming into this world to give Your life for me? I'm sorry for the times I get so busy that I fail to remember the incredible love You willfully demonstrated to me by going to the Cross. You didn't have to do it, but You did it for me. I thank You from the depths of my heart for loving me so completely!
I pray this in Jesus' name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly declare that God values me! He loves me so much that He sent Jesus into the world to take my place on the Cross. He took my sin; He carried my sickness; and He bore my shame. Because of Jesus' work of redemption on the Cross, today I am saved, I am healed, and I am not ashamed!
I declare this by faith in Jesus' name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- When you consider how much of God's power was available to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, how does this affect your level of expectation for His power to work in your life right now?
- Have you ever witnessed God's power working mightily in your life when no natural help was available? If so, when was it, and what happened?
- What did you learn from today's Sparkling Gem that was brand new to you?