Saint Mark the Evangelist
St. Mark's account of Our Lord's Passion describes a "young man wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body," that ran off naked during the arrest of Christ:
Then his disciples, leaving him, all fled away. And a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body. And they laid hold on him. But he, casting off the linen cloth, fled from them naked. (Mark 14:50–52, D-R)
A reader named Tim from Orinda, California recently wrote me about this. He asks:
Why does Mark's Gospel include this seemingly random detail? What's the meaning of this? Nothing more of this young man is described. I understand that no details in the Gospels are "random", but I can't see how this fits into the larger narrative. Any enlightenment on this would be appreciated.
Let's play Sherlock Holmes here. Note that the Apostles all fled, but this one man "followed him," that is, this man in linen followed Christ when the Apostles abandoned Christ. Second, the passage has clear allusions to Joseph in Genesis 39:
Now it happened on a certain day, that Joseph went into the house, and was doing some business, without any man with him: And she catching the skirt of his garment, said: Lie with me. But he leaving the garment in her hand, fled, and went out. (Genesis 39:11–12, D-R)
Every Jew knew this story about Joseph well. It seems that Mark includes this to show that this person was faithful to Christ and that he, like Joseph in the Old Testament, fled from the adulterers. Who were the adulterers? The adulterers were high priests of Jerusalem who had gone whoring after Caesar and abandoned their true Bridegroom the Messiah.
Some have suggested that the naked young man of Mark 14:50–52 is none other than Saint Mark himself. I'm partial to this view. It's a random detail and Mark doesn't usually focus on odd details that do not pertain to the action of the narrative. Moreover, the Last Supper took place in the home of St Mark's mother. Hence, we might rightly suppose that St Mark was present with Christ and the Apostles on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Saint Mark would also have been a young man at this time. Perhaps he is humbly recounting how he as a young man and as a new disciple tried to remain faithful to Christ on that dreadful evening.
St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory, and Baronius, according to Lapide, think the naked man was St. John the Apostle; for he was a youth, and the youngest of the Apostles. Moreover, Saint John remained faithful all the way to the crucifixion.
Of course, we will not know until Heaven, may God grant it to us. Still, I think that the naked man's identity is most likely Saint Mark.