The Gospel Of Mark (memoirs of the naked runner) Lesson 1 Pastor Barry Bruce
Introduction to Mark
The Gospel of Mark is likely the first of the four gospel accounts written because the gospels of Matthew and Luke look so similar to it. John’s gospel is much different in both style and content. Because of this agreement, these three gospels are called the Synoptic Gospels (syn = “together with”; optic = “Seeing”; thus “seeing together”). Mark likely wrote his gospel between 50AD and 60AD, followed by the gospel of Matthew in that same time period. Luke was likely written between 59AD-63AD and John likely wrote his gospel somewhere between 63AD and 70AD before the destruction of Jerusalem. Liberal scholars would disagree with these timelines and date all of the books much later. They would also say that these books were all written by authors who were not eyewitnesses of the life of Christ. To me it is very unlikely that any of the gospel writers would not make any reference whatsoever to the horrendous fire in Rome (which burned for over a week) in 64AD, the death of Nero (the great killer of Christians) who bled out in 68AD or most notably the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70AD. These were huge events to Christians and to anyone who would ever read these gospels. Therefore, I believe that all of the gospels and The Revelation were written at least before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, written by those who had the firsthand accounts of Jesus’ ministry.
The Gospel of Mark, therefore, was written by John Mark who was a close associate of the apostle Peter. Young Mark was likely a tag along to the disciples of Jesus and also the “young man” randomly referenced in Mark’s gospel that “fled naked, leaving his garment behind” when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52). We know from scripture that John Mark’s mother had a house in Jerusalem that served as a meeting place for believers (Acts 12:12). Mark also accompanied Paul and Barnabas in ministry (Acts 12:25) and also joined them as a “helper” on a missionary trip to Cyprus (Acts 13:5), but for some unknown reason deserted them and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). John Mark’s desertion bothered Paul so much that he refused to take him on another mission trip. This caused such a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas that they split up. Paul chose Silas as a new mission companion and Barnabas took his cousin John Mark with him back to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). We can see later, in Paul’s own writing, that Mark regained favor with him. Paul wrote, “get Mark and bring him with you for he is helpful to me in my ministry”(2 Timothy 4:11). Mark likely wrote his gospel through notes he had taken from Peter’s sermons and also by interviewing Peter himself. The gospel was likely written in Rome and concluded sometime before Peter’s martyrdom there by Nero before 68AD. The first recipients of that gospel would have been the church in Rome.
The Naked Runner Mark 14:43-52
Today we begin Mark’s gospel near the end because chapter 14 is where I assume that Mark got his spiritual wake up call. Mark is the only gospel writer that includes this account of the “naked runner” and so I believe that we can establish that it is a cameo appearance of himself at the arrest of Jesus. He would have been both a “young man” at that time and also an “attendant” of Jesus and His disciples as the Greek word (“neaniskos” [neh-an-is-kos] = young man, youth, attendant) literally translates. Tradition holds that John Mark’s mother was a widow of exceptional wealth and a follower of Jesus. Tradition also says that it was the upper room of her house that was used for the Last Supper and later the meeting room at Pentecost. Her son, John Mark, would have likely attended Jesus and the disciples at that Passover meal and eagerly followed them after dinner to Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Luke’s gospel said that “Jesus went out ‘as usual’ to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39). Jesus and the disciples likely slept in a cave there “across the “Kidron Valley” where there was a “garden” (John 18:1). Precisely where the Gospels suggest, there is a cave located near the garden at Gethsemane. There is no other competing cave in the vicinity. Jesus and his disciples most likely did not lie down under the stars, but took shelter there during the cool spring nights. Archaeology shows that the cave, now called the Gethsemane Grotto ( Franciscans own and maintain the cave, adjacent to the Tomb of the Virgin, since 1361) once held an olive-oil-press and water cisterns. Evidence suggests that this warm cave is where the disciples fell asleep as Jesus prayed “a stone’s throw beyond them”(Luke 22:41) in the garden.
Young John Mark likely brought his sleeping linen to stay the night. The Greek word for that garment is (“Sindon” [sin-don] = a costly fine linen sheet or garment). Apparently, tired from the walk from Jerusalem, Mark slipped out of his clothes and into his sheet with every intention to sleep despite Jesus’ instructions to “watch and pray”. Mark was likely wakened by the commotion at Jesus arrest quickly wrapped his sheet around him and came out of the cave to see what was happening. A guard grabbed him and the naked runner fled for his life!
Exposed John 10:10
What are we to learn from Mark’s exposing experience? There have been many applications but chose three. Which one exposes you: If the shoe (garment) fits then wear it!
1.) When we cozy ourselves into a deep sleep against the Lord’s command we may wake naked and afraid to the dreadful and humiliating consequences of our disobedience. Ephesians 5:14-19, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 , Matthew 24: 42-44, Revelation 16:17
2.) The material garment (pleasures) of this world must be stripped off if we are to be free from the devil’s grasp! Hebrews 12:1-3, see story of Joseph : Genesis 39 , 1 Peter 5:8
3.) The fear, shame and nakedness that sin reveals is covered once and for all by Jesus Christ who gave Himself up as a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2:6, John 3:16
Mark’s experience at Jesus’ arrest was no doubt a spiritual wake up call for him in one way or another. The rest of his life would be spent in serving Christ. As we study Mark’s gospel we will also discover things we need to strip off or put on in order to follow Jesus more closely. It is only then that we can truly know the blessings of the abundant life He promised.