When reading a book today, the author sometimes has a biography blurb on the back cover. Occasionally, a picture. It gives me a sense of “I know the angle the author is writing from.” AND sometimes I even look at the picture and believe—“I can picture them writing this story now!” Doesn’t work so well for Charles Dickens. John Grisham, yes.
Trouble River when it comes to books of the Bible. No pictures available unless you count the great master’s paintings. For gospel biography blurbs–we must piece together information. The great author Thomas Carlyle asserts that, “Lives of great human beings are essential to understanding society and their institutions.”
This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…Mark 1:1
Mark, Mark, Mark…who are you? I want to know a bit about you–to know the lens you are writing from.
John Mark. John (Ioannes-Jewish Name from Latin) (Mark was Roman name)
- First reference ACTS 12.12 Peter, when delivered from prison, went to the home of John Mark’s mother (Jewish, Christian mother), where many believers were praying for him ( the Rhoda incident happened here ) John’s Mother was a new believer and a hostess, I gather.
- Acts 12.25 Barnabas and Saul returned from Antioch from their famine visit at Jerusalem, they took John Mark
- Acts 13.5 This opened opportunity for John to accompany them on their missionary journey as their “helper.” Notice use of his Jewish name.
- Acts 13.13 John returned to Jerusalem ( he left Paul and Barnabas) for unknown reasons (homesickness or was it that he objected to offering salvation to Gentiles???) We will never know.
- Acts 15.37-38 Paul and Barnabas disagree (seems like a sore spot with both of them) on taking John Mark on next mission trip, resulting in two missionary parties. Barnabas and John Mark revisit Cyprus and Paul chose Silas and went to Asia Minor. This disagreement advanced the gospel!–two teams went out!!
- Philemon 1.24 Mark appears as fellow worker with Paul (in Rome.) Must have reconciled their differences!
- Colossians 4:10 Paul recommends Mark to church in Colosse. Relationship is restored to the effect Paul sends greetings from him in this passionate letter.
- 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul calls him “useful” in his pastoral letter to Timothy.
- 1 Peter 5:13 Peter calls Mark “my son” probably as a term of affection
These nine entries give pieces that I can put together to “know” who John Mark is to me. Companion of Paul and Barnabas. One who can disagree. One who can reconcile. Missionary traveler. Son of a Christian mother. No information on his father. A wonderful writer who believes Jesus is the Son of God.
I notice that he does not write about himself. Humility? Focus? Purpose Driven? His own identity is not what he is writing about. The identity he wants to establish is “…Jesus Christ, Son of God.”
How does Mark draw you in “immediately” with his stories of Jesus?
The power and authority of Jesus are made clear in the opening chapters of Mark. In what areas of your life do you need the powerful and compassionate touch of Christ today? …or are you like the young John Mark and do you need to return to Jerusalem to ponder what is really being offered? (Acts 13.13)