"A certain young man was following (Jesus), wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked."
"There are no small roles, just small actors," the old theater adage goes. There are your Leading Actors/Actresses... your Supporting Cast... you Ensemble... and then the occasional 'Minor Characters'. This last group is often quite quirky & memorable. Such is the case today.
Mark 14 is a massive chapter, seventy-two (72) verses in all. It runs a span of 2 days... and encompasses (amongst other things) the Last Supper and Jesus' betrayal/arrest. This quintessential final meal between Jesus and his closest followers ends with the disclosure that they'd all abandon him. 'No way!' they'd insist. But, sure enough, when it went down, "all of them deserted him and fled" (v.50).
This is precisely where our aforementioned minor character enters the scene. Described only as a "certain young man," we know nothing else about his background. Had he followed Jesus before? Maybe. But he wasn't one of the 12 disciples, or they would have named him. Was he an innocent bystander, merely caught up in the drama of the night? Possibly. But the phrase "was following (Jesus)" seems to indicate a bit more intention. Some scholars suggest it might have been the author of Mark himself. We really don't know.
Whomever it was, he was following Jesus on a night when ALL of Jesus' closest friends had abandoned him. ALL OF THEM. And he wasn't dressed for travel, it seems. He merely had a "linen cloth" on. Pajamas? "Hang out at home" clothes? Had he recently bathed and just threw something on when he heard the commotion out in the streets? We don't know. We can imply, however, that following Jesus that night was of more importance than putting on "decent clothes" before venturing out.
And he wasn't lurking in the shadows, keeping a safe distance, either. He was close enough to touch. Close enough to be grabbed... but not apprehended. It cost him his "linen cloth," but he escaped the hands of the angry mob. Naked. (Streaking in the Bible?!? Who knew!?)
What was it that compelled this "certain young man" to risk getting so close to Jesus on this night of nights? Could it be that he had a sense that Jesus was the kind of person who'd risk everything for him later that same day? Now that's PASSION!
May I not be content to merely play it safe in my following of Christ. (Though I'm not sure I'm ready to start streaking for the Lord! LOL)