The Gospel text for this Sunday, Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion, is a huge one—essentially chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel according to Mark. It is like going into one of those Global Market stores and seeing various foods from all over the world (It just so happened that I did that today). Which ones should be my focus this time? Which one is going to be the best? (In some way, they all became famous enough to make it there!)
Unfortunately some people have the idea that the Gospel according to Mark is early and basic, that the more interesting details were added later. Voelz, in his Concordia Commentary, differs from this view significantly. Yes, when a message is just starting out, it may tend to be shorter. But also when a critical event happens, in an emergency, then a message also tends to be significantly shorter. When time is important, you say what is important.
There has been a significant amount of attention given to something unique to this account—that a young man who has been following Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane, when grabbed by the authorities, runs away, leaving his ‘linen garment’ (14:51-52).
Some people think that this is Mark. That would make sense. But rather than going in the direction of source—who this young man is, I would rather go in the direction of deity—now what does this mean for Jesus, the so-called ‘Son of God’?
This young man in Mark 14 has been compared to the young man in Mark 16 who appears at Jesus’ tomb (on his right, interestingly enough) and tells the women what happened to him. But the one in the tomb has on a white robe.
One other person has on the same ‘linen garment’; it is Jesus, and he was wrapped in it after he died.
It is interesting that he is called a corpse at that time. But that will only be true for a very short time.
Both men are seized; both men are wrapped in a ‘linen garment’, and both men escape. There is too much in common to be a coincidence.
The act of being seized—and the basic word used here means ‘strength’—is a significant one. Jesus has acted like the second living creature, the lion, pretty much all through this account. Now his enemies have shown some strength and fought back, but, ultimately, they fail. And now Jesus has the upper hand—quite literally, if you think about it.