The man in linen

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. (Mark 14:51,52)

There has been much intrigue as to who this man is. Some think it’s Mark. It is also suggested that this shows the historicity of Mark because it’s such a random event. I agree that it is a real event but why does Mark record it?

‘I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen….’

‘…among them was a man clothed in linen’.

The first is a quote from Daniel (Dan 10:5). The second from Ezekiel (Ezek 9:2). Both the passages are quotes from visions they had. The Ezekiel vision narrates how the glory of God leaves the temple. The Daniel vision points to the end of all things mentioning twice the abomination of the desolation and stopping of burnt offering.

I wonder if Mark is alluding that the institution of the temple is folding up. Jesus has said that the temple will be destroyed. Jesus is accused that he said he would destroy the temple and raise it up after three days. Jesus is mocked while he is on the cross that he would destroy the temple and raise it up after three days.  Jesus says that the Son of Man will die and be raised after three days. Is Mark telling us that Jesus is the new temple? (Let’s avoid John for the time being, let’s explore what Mark is doing.)

Linen was the uniform of the priests in the temple. They even had to wear linen undergarments. (Lev 6:10) The linen garments were considered sacred (Lev 16:4) and the High Priest had to wear them to offer sacrifice.

The linen cloth is stripped of the young man. Could Mark be telling us that the temple is now defunct as is evidenced by the sham trial?

After Jesus death Mark tells us that Joseph of Arimathea puts a new linen cloth on the dead body of Jesus. He bought it Mark says. Matthew says it was a clean linen cloth. Luke and John don’t make comment other than it was linen.

With the man in the linen who loses his linen cloth do we see Mark presenting to us the defrocking of priesthood itself? With the dead Jesus in the new linen cloth is Mark presenting to us the new priesthood?

A High Priest who is the sacrifice?


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