Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.
The above passage is from Mark’s account of the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane. None of the other accounts include it, leading some Bible scholars to believe that the young man mentioned is Mark himself. In Jewish culture being naked would have been considered a mark of shame (no pun intended). So, whether it is Mark or not, the fact that we are blatantly informed of his nudity is significant.
The young man is still following Jesus after the other disciples have fled (verse 50) but he is discovered and they grab him. He breaks free and flees leaving behind the cloth he had been wearing. Being naked is shameful but he flees naked. Could he have been so afraid that he didn’t care about the shame of his uncovered body? Very probably; blind terror or naked fear, if you like, could have gripped him and off he ran oblivious to anything but fear. It is quite possible.
Have you ever been gripped by fear? I don’t mean the quick shock where you walk into a room and someone startles you. I mean gut wrenching, stomach churning fear. I’ve been in court several times over the last few years, for custody battles, and every time there is this gut wrenching fear that someone, who doesn’t know you from Adam, is going to take your kids away. It’s almost palpable. You can feel it squeezing your heart. It isn’t pleasant.
Fortunately we don’t need to fear. In fact, we are told not to somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred and thirty times in the Bible. (Yes, I know that the movie “Facing the Giants” puts the number at around 365, but I could only verify the smaller number.)
However, it doesn’t matter if God tells us something once or a thousand times, all that matters is that he said it.
‘Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
I would like to point out that in the above verse from Isaiah that the Lord doesn’t promise that the outcome will be what you want. He only promises to strengthen, help and uphold you, no matter what. So, do not be afraid.
The next time you begin to feel that naked fear taking hold of you don’t shrug off your cloth and run away. Instead, drop to your knees and place that fear squarely at the foot of the cross. Give it to Jesus and find peace.
Today is Good Friday; what better day to dump your fear? On this weekend when we commemorate Christ’s betrayal, death, burial and resurrection let’s throw off fear instead of our garments. The disciples lived in fear from the moment they fled the Garden until the resurrected Lord presented himself to them and took their fear away. Let him take yours, too.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.