As we start on this journey into the Gospel of Mark, I think it’s important to realize there’s a fair amount of drama associated with the name Mark! This man is actually John Mark – who once angered the Apostle Paul so much by leaving him during his first mission trip (Acts 13) that Paul refused to let him come on the second one. That’s not gossip, my friends, that’s fact! But if that doesn’t set our tongues wagging, what will?
I don’t know about you, but I find myself captivated by the little details about the lives of the Biblical writers that have surfaced for me only after years of reading and studying scripture. John Mark is a good example. This young man’s mother was Mary, who opened her home to the early Christians. He may have been present at the Last Supper since it’s possible that Mary’s home was the location of the upper room. When Peter was miraculously released from prison by an angel the night before he was to come before Herod for trial (Acts 12:6-10), he went to Mary’s home. John Mark witnessed all of this. Wow!
But the details that inspire me the most about John Mark’s life are not found until reading the letters Paul wrote to the Colossians, to Philemon and to Timothy. By the time he wrote them, the name John Mark was shortened to Mark, and all the trouble that had happened during that first mission trip was reconciled. Paul says about Mark to the Colossians, “…if he comes to you, welcome him,” and to Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).
And then there’s the relationship that Mark had with the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13). It’s here that we see the plans and purposes that God had in mind for this man all along coming to fruition. When Mark sat down with pen and paper to write Peter’s story, he already had a wealth of memories of his own. But we don’t hear those, do we? No, Mark never mentions his own name in the Gospel that bears his name. Instead, he brings us face to face with Jesus, the only name worthy of all honor and praise!