Mark 14:51-65

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. Mark 14:51-65

Sometimes, when I read the verses for the day in these devotions, I worry that some readers might skip actually reading the Bible and just read what crosses my mind. I hope that doesn’t happen. Especially today and tomorrow.

So, now, go back and read today’s verses again….

It begins with this strange verse but the unnamed young man who almost gets caught by the authorities – they catch him by what little he is wearing – but he wriggles free and, naked, runs to safety. What a strange verse!

Some interpreters have suggested that this is John Mark, the possible author of the gospel. I have no idea what the basis for that suggestion would be. We ought instead just let the verse stand as it is. One more follower of Jesus stripped naked as he flees for his own protection. Can we blame him?

Then we move to the “trial”. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice sits on a six acre site in Montgomery, AL. It was created to force us to remember the terror and injustice of the wave of lynching African Americans that spread across the country from 1880-1940. Every “trial”, which preceded every such lynching, looked just like the “trial” that Jesus faced.

It was never about justice. It was only about power. And when justice falls victim to power then the darkest sides of fallen human nature rule the day.

Some things never change. Unless people decide they must change and go to work to do it.

Jesus bravely stands his ground. The high priest is so enraged that he tears his own clothes – he too, like that unnamed young man – is stripped bare. He too, who ought to have known better, shows his true colors. He only cares about retaining his own power. Even if that means killing an innocent man. Meanwhile, Peter sits quietly outside.

Now, go back and read the verses again…

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, in your trial, in your bravery, in your powerlessness, you stand with and for all of those who were murdered without justice, simply because of the imagined threat they posed to those clinging to their own privilege and power. May we never sit idly by, silent, in the face of devastating injustice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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