Story 35: Introducing Mark

Book of Mark

Mark was a friend of Peter and Paul, a cousin of Barnabas, and a devoted follower of Christ. Through his writings we hear the words of Peter, the great Apostle, about the life of Jesus. What would it have been like to listen to Peter tell his stories and write them down for the world to hear? What would it have been like to hear Peter tell about his own betrayal of the Savior…or of his restoration?

We have already learned about the writers of the book of Luke and the book of Matthew. Let’s refresh our memories, and then we’ll go on to learn about the writer of the book of Mark. Matthew was written by Jesus’ disciple, the tax collector. He wrote his book for the Jewish people to help them understand that Jesus was really the promised Messiah of Old Testament prophecy.

Luke was a man who believed in Jesus after He died and rose again. He was probably Greek, which means he was a Gentile. Many believe he wrote the books of Luke and Acts between the years of 59-63 A.D. He travelled all over the Roman world with the Apostle Paul as they proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wanted to create a written record of the life of Christ so that everyone who put their faith in Jesus would understand His life and death and resurrection. In Luke’s day, there were many false stories being told about the life of Christ. Luke spent time with the people that actually knew Jesus and were there for His great teaching and miracles to get the true story. He also wanted to make it clear to his Gentile readers in the Roman world that it was Jesus who first declared that non Jews were welcome in the Kingdom of God.

Luke especially shows how Jesus was the compassionate Savior. We receive special images of Christ’s love for the poor and the hurting, the widow, the sinner, and those with diseases through the stories of Luke. Luke wanted to make sure to show how Jesus was like the Suffering Servant that Isaiah the prophet wrote about. The book of Luke is really just the first half of Luke’s writing. The second half is the book of Acts, where Luke describes all the amazing things that happened after Jesus died and rose again. When the Lord ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father on the throne, They sent the Holy Spirit to earth to empower the apostles to spread the Good News of the Kingdom all over the world! That is a pretty exciting story, but for now we’ll stick with the part about Jesus and His life on earth.

The book of Mark was written by another man whose family lived in Jerusalem. After Jesus died and rose and ascended into Heaven, the early church in Jerusalem grew and grew through the power of the Holy Spirit. They would meet in the home of Mary, Mark’s mother. When the apostle Paul and Barnabas went out on their very first missionary journey, they brought Mark along. Very soon, however, Mark was overcome with fear. The boldness of their proclamation and the potential danger became very real to him, and so he left them in the city of Perga and went back home. That really disappointed Paul. Later on, when Barnabas wanted to bring Mark on another missionary journey, Paul was so against it that it broke up their partnership. They ended up going on separate journeys. You see, Mark was Barnabas’ cousin. These men all loved Jesus with fierce dedication, but they weren’t perfect. Divisions and disagreements happened in the Church then just as they do now!

Later on, Mark became a companion of the Apostle Peter. We have strong reasons to believe that when Mark wrote his book, he took his stories from Peter’s sermons. When we read the book of Mark, we are probably hearing Peter’s words about his Savior! Isn’t that cool?

Scholars say that Mark probably wrote his Gospel in Rome, and his audience was probably Roman Christians who were facing heavy persecution. Many believe that he wanted to show them how Jesus had gone before them and suffered to give them courage in their own suffering. In his stories, Mark shows how human sin created the need for a sacrifice to be made for sin, and how only the Son of God could be that sacrifice. It required a person who could live and walk in perfect, holy obedience to God the Father, and only Jesus could do that as God come to earth. Mark is also careful to show that Jesus was both fully human (Mark 3:5; 6:6-34) and that he was fully God Divine (Mark 1:1-11; 3:11; 5:7).

Isn’t it amazing that Peter, the one who walked and talked with Jesus and could proclaim that this man of flesh and blood was also God himself? That was Peter’s message to the world, and Mark was the writer who acted as Peter’s scribe. The Lord used the gifts and empowerment of these men to write another sacred Gospel through the work of His Spirit.

We know that over time Mark and the Apostle Paul were reconciled. Many years after that first missionary journey when Mark ran away, he was with Paul in Rome. Paul lwas iving under house arrest in an apartment as he awaited trial as a Roman citizen. He was also writing the book of Colossians. Paul told the people of Collose that if Mark journeyed to them, they should welcome him (Colossians 4:10).

A few years later, Paul was arrested again. This time he was held in chains in a dingy prison cell like a common prisoner. Luke, the writer of Luke and Acts, was with him. Timothy, Paul’s disciple and spiritual son, who was leading the church in Ephesus. Paul asked Timothy to come to him in Rome, and he asked him to bring Mark with him. Paul said that Mark was useful to him for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Could he have given him higher praise?

As we read about stories from the book of Mark, we know that we are hearing from the testimonies of dear Peter. We are hearing about them from a very human man who loved the Lord, had serious faults, and was still found faithful. By God’s wonderful grace, Mark was given the breathtaking privilege of writing a book in the Bible! That should be a comfort and encouragement to the rest of us who seek to be faithful to the Lord but are all too aware of our stumbling and failings.

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