March 13, 2014

Discipleship Failure

Mark 14:51-52; 16:5-7

He fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
—Mark 14:52
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side.
—Mark 16:5


In past readings we’ve looked at Jesus’ disciples who sleep instead of pray, flee when Jesus is arrested, and deny him during his trial. Today’s reading shows another example—a young man who would rather lose his clothes than lose his life for Jesus.

Though we are not told the young man’s name, many scholars read this as a reference to Mark—the writer of this gospel ac-count. In a way, Mark confesses his own sin here and calls us to a deeper commitment. We read more about Mark in Acts 15:36-41, which reveals another discipleship failure on his part. But later he returns to discipleship and serves faithfully (see Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24; 1 Peter 5:13).

Mark 16 describes an angel in the resurrection story as “a young man dressed in a white robe.” Could this description be a picture of how the gospel writer Mark wanted to be? Through Jesus’ transforming power in his life, and despite his failures, Mark did become someone who proclaimed the good news of the resurrection. His account in the Bible still brings the message to us today.

Though we might fail, we can return to discipleship too. Every one of our failures can be wiped away because of Jesus’ saving work and resurrection. And his Spirit fills us to serve.

Thank you, Lord, for wiping away our failures and restoring us to new life so that we can serve in your strength. Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!