Binding Broken Hearts

Introducing Jesus to Those Who Need Him Most

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Service and Sacrifice - Mark - Introduction

We’re starting a new series this week on the Gospel of Mark. After our series on The Power of the Word, I want next to explore the Word Himself. What better place to do that than in the Gospels? You may be asking, “Why Mark?”

The Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark. This is not the same John, brother of James, who wrote the Gospel of John, and the Books of I, II, and III John.

Mark’s mother, Mary, was a Jesus follower. She opened her home to church gatherings.

“And when Peter had come to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.’ So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.” (Acts 12:11-12)

Scholars believe we are introduced to Mark by the somewhat funny, self-revealing passage in the story of the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:51-52)

None of the other Gospels has this description. We get a glimpse of Mark’s personality here.

The next time we see Mark is Acts 12:

“And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.” (Acts 12:25)

Mark had the marvelous opportunity of traveling with Paul and Barnabas and watching these evangelists up close and personal as they preached from town to town. But it did not last long. The group returned to Antioch where Paul and Barnabas were anointed to their work as evangelists. Then the group sailed to Cyprus and had an experience with a false prophet, Bar-Jesus. And then the group sailed to Pamphylia, where, apparently, Mark had had enough.

“Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.” (Acts 13:13)

I’m sure that was a long journey home for Mark. He had left Jerusalem a relatively short time before in the excitement of being a missionary to unreached people groups. But during the journey, he realized that he wasn’t quite prepared for the travel and sacrifice. He decided early on to return home. This time he would be entering Jerusalem an abject failure.

The good news, though, about Mark’s story is that God still used him after his failure. It is in this place where Mark caught the eye of Peter. Peter definitely knew what it was like to do an absolute face plant in failure. (Luke 22:54-62) Perhaps this why Peter was drawn to Mark. Most scholars agree that Mark’s Gospel was written as Peter dictated so that Peter’s talks could be captured and shared more broadly.

The relationship between Mark and Peter was so close, that Peter referred to him as a son in 1 Peter 5:13:

“She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.”

Mark’s time under the mentorship of Peter was transforming. He matured as he listened to Peter’s firsthand accounts of Jesus. He developed new skills as he served under Peter. And others took notice.

Barnabas and Mark were reunited, and Mark joined Barnabas on a missionary journey, even though that meant a parting of the ways between Paul and Barnabas.

“Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.” (Acts 15:37-40)

Not to worry, Mark’s transformation also caught the eye of Paul, and the two of them later joined in ministry.

“Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11)

Again, why Mark? Mark’s story (and, for that matter, Peter’s story) tells us that even after abject failure, we can still do great things for God. I want to study the life of Jesus through the eyes of these two men who fell to such lows and then rose through the power of the Holy Spirit to have such a positive impact on the world. Their stories give me hope. Perhaps they give you hope as well.

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