Summary: Who was this young man who ran away into the night? What's his story and what can it teach us?
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit --
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
as every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure turns about
when he might have won had he stuck it out,
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow
you may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
it seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up
when he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down
how close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out
the silver tints of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
(poem by Edgar A. Guest)
Don’t give up.
Don’t presume that you are a loser…
Especially when you’re a Christian.
Now, to prove my point I want to introduce you this morning to a man who failed… not once… but at least twice.
We first read about him – here, in this text. In Mark 14, we’re told that
“… everyone deserted (Jesus) and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” Mark 14:50-52
Now – what do we know about this young man?
First he’s wealthy. He was wearing linen garments, and linen garments didn’t come cheap back then.
Second, he’s probably not one of the 12 disciples. He’s introduced simply as a young man.
Third, this is the only time in any of the Gospels that we read about this incident.
But God saw fit to put this little story at the end of the book of Mark.
The question is: why?
Well, the general consensus among scholars is that this young man… is Mark.
In other words, he’s the Mark that wrote this book.
And more than likely he used what he wrote as a sermon (most folks believe that each of the Gospels was a sermon that put down in written form). Therefore, if he’d written this book, he’d have known this part of the story… because he lived it. It was part of WHO he was and WHAT he experienced in following Christ.
So what is Mark telling us here?
He’s telling us he ran away.
Just like all the disciples ran away.
He’s not bragging here he’s telling you HIS story as well as Christ’s story.
This kind of thing (an author putting himself anonymously into the story) was not uncommon. John (for example) did the same thing. In the Gospel of John, John always speaks of himself as “the man who loved Jesus”. He NEVER uses his own name. It’s part of his story and John is telling you WHO he was without trying to draw attention to himself too much.
And here in the gospel of Mark, Mark is telling us who he was too.
He was the young man who ran away.
Now Mark doesn’t get a lot of attention from scholars because he seems like a minor player. In fact, the next time we read about him he ran away… again.
In the book of Acts we’re told about a mission trip where Paul and Barnabas went out and planted several churches in Asia. And we’re told in Acts 12:25 “Barnabas and Saul returned … from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called MARK.”
Now just so you don’t get confused… Mark had 2 names.
Mark was his Greek name and John was his Jewish name.
Some folks even refer to him as John Mark.
Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on that first mission trip, but for some reason he deserted them and went back home. Essentially… he “ran away” again.
Why did he run away?
Nobody knows (Scripture doesn’t say) but it must not have been for a very good reason because it really ticked Paul off. The next time he went on a mission trip Paul refused to let Mark tag along
Acts 15 tells us “… Paul did not think it wise to take (Mark), because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.” Acts 15:38-40