“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Friday, March 12, 2021.
And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked. (Mark 14:51-52)
I have always loved this unusual scene from the passion. It seems like a totally random cameo in the gospel of Mark. I know who streaked across the stage at my high school’s spring chorus concert, but we don’t know anything about this young man. Everyone else had a reason to be at Gethsemane that night. Everyone but this guy.
Unless, it was Mark.
Unless it was his subtle way of saying he was there to see the disciples flee and Jesus taken away. Some Renaissance artists included subtle hidden images of themselves in their paintings, such as Raphael who painted a fresco in the Vatican. Stephen King made a cameo appearance in the TV production of his book Under the Dome. Director Alfred Hitchcock appears in North by Northwest.
The bible includes a few other instances when people left their clothes behind. When Potiphar’s wife tried to make a move on the handsome house slave Joseph, he leaves his garment in her clutches and runs from the house. Elijah left his cloak behind when he was taken up into heaven in the whirlwind. The soldiers keeping watch over Jesus’ crucifixion took his clothes and divided them up, casting lots for his tunic.
Leaving your old clothes behind is a great image of salvation. The baptized put off the old and put on new lives every day, which Isaiah describes as garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. Jesus was seized in the garden and everyone else got away. Jesus was apprehended and crucified so we could get away from God’s wrath for sin, too.
But God never leaves us uncovered. Just as he made clothes for Adam and Eve after their disobedience, so he covers up all our sins with his steadfast, enduring and sacrificial love.
It is a blessing to discover Jesus making cameo appearances in our lives. Sometimes he is one of the least of these, the ones whom we feed, clothe or shelter. Other times he feeds us with his word. Still other times we see him at work in hearts who fear, love and trust him more than anything else. And sometimes he is just there to listen as we pour out our hearts to him.
Heavenly Father, thank you for empowering me to get rid of the old and put on the new. In Jesus’ name. Amen.