TODAY’S READING: MARK 4-6
The Servant conquers a storm (chapter 4); the Servant conquers demons (chapter 5); the Servant sends out His disciples (chapter 6).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Because the narrative nature of the Gospels makes them relatively easy to understand, our comments yesterday focused on the “big picture” of Mark’s Gospel, and how it fits into God’s plan to present the Lord Jesus Christ “to the Jew first (Matthew) and also to the Gentile (Mark)” (Rom 2:10). Today we will center our attention on the unique authorship of this Book.
As in Matthew, there is no specific verse that states that Mark is actually the author of this Gospel. God did promise, however, to preserve His words, and that certainly includes the title of the Books! Utilizing the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), we know that Mark is the author because God said that this Book is “The Gospel According To St. Mark” ! Because of the testimony of Papaias, one of the very early “Church Fathers,” it is commonly believed that Mark received the eyewitness information from the Apostle Peter, who according to I Peter 5:13, had won Mark to Christ and discipled him.
>From the Book of Acts we learn that Mark is actually the surname of the author and that his first name is actually, John (“John, whose surname was Mark” – Acts 12:12, 25: 15:37).
He came from a Christian family, the first time that he is mentioned being in connection with his mother, whose name was Mary, who had opened her home for prayer when Peter had been imprisoned by Herod (Acts 12:1-2). His mother’s brother was Barnabus, which, of course, meant that John Mark was his nephew (Col. 4:10).
When Barnabus and Saul (soon to be Paul), returned from Jerusalem in Acts 12, John Mark accompanied them to Antioch (Acts 12:25). Later, when Barnabus and Saul were sent out of the church of Antioch on their first missionary journey, John Mark was included as a part of their missionary team (Acts 13:4-5). Not long into their journey, however, John Mark had had “enough,” and headed back home to “mama” (Acts 13:13). The Scripture does not say why he went home. Perhaps it was tougher than he thought it was going to be. Maybe the pace was too fast, the persecution too intense, the demonic activity too freaky. Maybe he was just plain old homesick. For whatever reason, he went home, and Paul quietly determined, “never again!”
Sometime later, when Paul and Barnabus were about to head out on their second missionary journey, Barnabus had determined that John Mark would accompany them again (Acts 15:36-37). Paul looked at the WORK of God and said, “This work is too important to God to give him a second chance!” (Acts 15:38). Barnabus looked at the CHILD of God, and said, “This servant is too important to God NOT to give him a second chance!” Who was right? Your answer will probably be determined by your engiftment. Regardless, the contention between Paul and Barnabus concerning John Mark was so sharp, they decided to part ways (Acts 15:39-40).
But in time, something tremendously significant had taken place in this sensitive, mama’s boy’s life. In Colossians 4:10-11, John Mark (Marcus) was with Paul, and Paul calls him a “fellowworker.” He’s with him again in Philemon 24, where Paul calls him his “fellowlabourer.” At the end of Paul’s life, he specifically requests his presence, stating, “for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).
It may have been Paul’s rejection that arrested John Mark’s attention to see how serious God’s work actually is, and jolted him to allow God to change him into a faithful servant.
It may have been Barnabus’ ministry or consolation (see Acts 4:36) that carefully restored him, and gently groomed him into a place of usefulness and profitability in Christ’s service.
Or, maybe it was solely the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God working through John Mark as he wrote this Gospel that bears his name, revealing to him what true servanthood really is, as he was confronted with it through the life and death of his Saviour.
Or, it could have been a combination of all three things! However it happened, John Mark became a faithful, useable, profitable servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you blown a major opportunity (or opportunities) to serve the Lord in your past? Have you been prone to discouragement, and defeat in your service for Christ? Are you in need of a second chance? A third? Or even a fourth? Allow the restored, renewed, revived ministry of John Mark through this Gospel God used him to pen, to point you to the one true model servant of all, our Lord Jesus Christ!