We end week two of Lent and the report of the Garden of Gethsemane concludes, not with all the talk of loyalty by the disciples but with the picture of a young man who was with the disciples fleeing naked when he is grabbed by the mob. He leaves his linen cloth in their hands and flees this world become chaos, as naked as the day he was born! Mark 14:50-52.
A nameless woman has anointed Jesus for his death. A nameless innkeeper has shared his upper room in preparation for the Passover, the death of the Paschal lamb. Judas Iscariot, a named friend, has betrayed Jesus – with a kiss. And Peter who loudly proclaimed loyalty is balancing on the edge of denial. But this nameless young man with only his clothes to cover him, leaves even that when put to the test. He has not even a name to identify him, just his bare behind. We do indeed have a sad cast of characters.
This reminds me of a hymn made famous by Christian spiritual crusades, “Just As I Am.” People rather than fleeing naked in the awareness of their sins, sing this hymn as they go forward. It was written by Charlotte Elliot in 1836. Her brother was planning a charity bazaar to raise money to send daughters of clergymen for higher education. The night before the bazar Charlotte had a rough night plagued by her own uselessness. The next day she took pen and ink to write down in verse the realities of her faith, “the formulae of her faith.” She was “naming and claiming” the naked truth of the Gospel. She focused on the Lord, His power and His promises, not her weakness. She focused on a Gospel that promised pardon, peace, and heaven. Just as I am…I come to thee.