Read: Mark 14:43-52
Christmas 2017 was celebrated yesterday. Lots of gifts were exchanged as a reminder of the incredible gift that Jesus is to our world. Today is Boxing Day, a day to reflect on the crescendo of the Christmas season (and pack-up stuff). We don’t really celebrate Boxing Day here, but I like the idea. Instead, however, we go back to work. The calendar calls. Time keeps moving.
For Jesus and His disciples, we read about this pivotal moment: Judas follows through on his end of the bargain with the Jewish leaders.
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Mark 14:43
John Mark reminds us of the completeness of the betrayal scene. There is a crowd, swords, clubs, anger, defiance, tempers flare as Judas Iscariot breaches the personal space of his friend, mentor, and savior and provides the signal that could not be misunderstood: a kiss.
Peter, always being Peter:
Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Mark 14:47
The servant (John tells us the servant’s name was Malchus) wasn’t fast enough to get out of the way! Peter’s reaction is classic, but Jesus will have nothing to do with igniting a rebellion on human terms. He quickly regains control of the scene, miraculously heals the servant and quiets the crowd.
“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled. Mark 14:48-49
Jerusalem was on alert. Those who were responsible for keeping civil rest during the Passover celebration were no doubt poised to squelch any sign of trouble. In my mind, they didn’t know all the details about this particular trouble-maker, they were just following orders to go along to maintain control when Jesus is arrested.
Then everyone deserted him and fled. Mark 14:50
They scatter–the disciples that is. Just as Jesus told them just a few hours earlier.
The scene before dawn, late in the night, unfolds as Jesus foretold many times.
John Mark provides a footnote to the event that I found interesting today:
A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. Mark 14:51-52
The other gospel writes add their observations, but here alone we read about one of the would-be followers of Jesus was also on the scene. This anonymous young man, like the disciples themselves, shows up on the scene in a costly garment.
Forgive me as I go out on a limb and imagine John Mark’s reason for including this footnote. Clothed with the riches of the world, he’s a fan of Jesus–like me perhaps. On the outside everything looks fine, but when you look closely, there is nothing underneath. When the pressure is on, the true character is revealed and the robes are stripped away. Perhaps this is John Mark’s reminder of Amos’ prophecy about the judgment of Israel in Amos 2:6-16. Amos caps his prophetic sermon with this note:
Even the bravest warriors
will flee naked on that day,”
declares the Lord.
They run away naked because they have nothing to offer. I have nothing to offer. The scene is embarrassing, humiliating, socially unacceptable (to say the least), but let’s be real: only through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice am I able to stand. I can’t be good enough, kind and gentle enough to earn salvation. It’s good to be good, but in the end, our robes of worldly goodness will be stripped away and there we are: naked.
Even the bravest will not win that day.
Lord, clothe me in your righteousness today. The birth of Jesus in such a humble manner reminds me of His greatness today. Happy Boxing Day. Remember the gifts.