from my notebook

My head is full of thoughts, and I have to write them down.

Bible Study Conversation – The Naked Man

One of the Bible’s great mysteries; who was the naked man in Mark 14:51-52? There have been many speculations: one of the disciples (John or James), a house boy or garden boy (they were in a garden, remember), and one account suggests the man is merely symbolic of the disciples shame in running away upon Jesus’ arrest. The possible explanation I find most interesting is mentioned in several commentaries, but here is the best one I found from the Fourfold Gospel Commentary.

The young man who fled naked is usually presumed to be Mark himself, and it is thought that he thus speaks impersonally after the manner of Matthew and John. The manner of his description shows that he was not an apostle. As Mark’s mother resided in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12 Acts 12:25), Canon Cook advances the theory that the Lord’s Supper was eaten in the upper room of her house, and that when the disciples retired with Jesus from thence to Gethsemane, Mark slipped from his bed, threw his sindon about him, and followed after them. The sindon, or linen vestment, was very costly, not being worn even by the middle classes: no apostle would be thus attired.

There are several reasons to believe Mark could be the “naked man.” First, the only place this is mentioned in the bible is the book of Mark, and it was common for them not to write in first person.

Second, Mark’s mother was wealthy and lived in Jerusalem, so they could have resided in the house with the upper room where the Last Supper was held. The only possible snag here is earlier in verse 13 when Jesus told the disciples to follow a man with a water jug to his house and ask the master of the house (which would imply there was a man of the house other than the one carrying the jug) to show them the room. Nothing is known of Mark’s father. I’ll pose the theory here that the man of the house could have been Barnabas, Mark’s cousin or uncle depending on how you calculate relatives.

Third, it would seem characteristic of John Mark to run away naked or not. After all this is the same young man who deserted Paul and Barnabas on one of their missionary journeys.

So, let’s assume the mysterious naked man was indeed John Mark; what is the purpose of these two short, seemingly insignificant verses. I suppose Mark could have had a penchant for telling embarrassing stories about himself. But keeping in mind that all scripture is inspired by God, we must assume God had a reason for this little inclusion, which brings us back to the symbolic explanation.

And so concludes my investigation into the mysterious naked man of the Bible…for now.


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