When We Flee, Jesus Remains! – Today’s Thoughts
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 10, 2011
Then everyone deserted him 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 NIV)
There is an old joke I first heard when I was in grade school, so this should tell you how old it is, that is about the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto. They are slowly creeping over a ridge, looking for a band of Indians in order to warn the US 7th Cavalry. They discover that the Indians have caught up to the troops and are engaging them in a fierce battle at the Little Big Horn. The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, “We have to get down there and help!” Tonto looks blandly back at the Lone Ranger and says, “What do you mean ‘we’ white man?” Yes, I know it is kind of corny but it depicts quite well what happens when you think you have help but are all of a sudden left alone, facing insurmountable odds. Jesus would understand completely.
Lest we forget, Jesus in fact was never left alone. I believe this is why he remains unshakable and relatively peaceful about the whole situation. While “everyone deserted him and fled,” we hear Jesus calmly asking his captors, “Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?” Jesus faces his armed opponents completely unarmed himself. The only weapon he has is his wits and of course his Heavenly Father, who was right there with him. They come to arrest him by the cover of darkness, while “every day” Jesus had been right there out in the open, “teaching in the temple courts” and yet they “did not arrest” him. However, Jesus knew why this had to happen the way it did, “the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
There is, however, a sad irony in the fact that those he had chosen to be his compatriots fled into the darkness when the first signs of force threatens. Of course we do have to remember that these were fishermen, tax collectors, and while there was a zealot within the ranks, they were ill prepared to thwart a cadre of armed guards. Interestingly there is one young man, while dressed in only his “linen garment” meant for sleeping, follows at a distant. When discovered and captured, he flees “naked, leaving his garment behind!” Most believe that his was probably John Mark, the writer of the gospel that bears his name. No one knows for sure, yet it makes good sense from what can be deduced. How ironic to be remembered as the one who fled naked into the darkness as Jesus is lead away.
I read once that perhaps this is the way god protected the early church. That if they had stayed, the church would have been captured and killed along with its founder. Yet, we do not find this anywhere suggested in Scripture, and I for one believe God would have revealed it to us. Rather, I think it follows human nature quite well. Here’s what I mean: We have to realize that none of the disciples were as of yet saved by faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Secondly, that sacrificial act had yet to occur. And finally, while many of us would like to think, as Peter proudly proclaimed, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” We are more like Peter in action rather than in word. We would do well to listen for the sound of a rooster crowing in the background. While Jesus is lead away, the others run away. And this I fear is where many of us find ourselves – fleeing Jesus when confronted by the world. An unarmed world I might add. We run into the darkness rather than stay by the Master’s side. The wonderful truth is that Jesus knew they would just as he knows we often do as well. That it is called “grace,” and why his grace is sufficient for us. Hebrews reminds us that “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV) When we flee, Jesus remains. Isn’t that great? He remained so that “the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.