Week 38: The Gospel According to Mark

 “So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:42-45 (NLT)

Mark was not one of the twelve disciples and for all we know he may not have even been an eye-witness to many of the actions that he records in his gospel. As far as I can tell, he isn’t even mentioned in any of the four gospel accounts unless he is the one referred to in Mark 14:51 where a “young man” wearing a linen garment is following Jesus the night of His arrest but is seized, his garment removed, and he fled naked. So who is Mark and why is his account recorded alongside Matthew, Luke, and John? Some assumption is made that Mark is also the John Mark that becomes a part of the story in the book of Acts and whose mother is mentioned in Acts 12:12 as someone whose home was a gathering place for the early Christians. It was her home that Peter went to after miraculously escaping from prison. There is even some speculation that The Last Supper was held in her home. We know that she was a wealthy woman and it would appear that Mark was educated in a world where few others were – thus making him a good candidate for recording the Gospel account.

John Mark was a travel companion to his cousin Barnabus (Col 4:10) and Paul in their first missionary journey but for reasons we don’t know, he left them and returned home. As Barnabus and Paul make plans for a second missionary journey, Barnabus wanted to take Mark with them, but Paul was adamant that he not join them after abandoning them at Pamphylia. This caused Barnabus and Paul to go their separate ways. Barnabus then takes Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus, his hometown. Paul teams up with Silas and Timothy and begins his second missionary journey.

Mark disappears from the story for a while but then reemerges some time later with Peter who describes him as “his son” (loved one) in 1 Peter 5:13. It would appear that Mark became the secretary/interpreter for Peter who was boldly proclaiming the Gospel to the early church in Rome. After Peter’s death, we find Mark once again with Paul who is now in prison (probably in Rome) and writing letters to continue his ministry with people he had already visited (Philemon 24, 2 Tim 4:11).

While the book of Matthew seems to be addressed to a Jewish audience, Mark assumes that his readers are Gentile. He will explain some Jewish customs, translate some Aramaic words, and leave out some of the Jewish associations that are included in Matthew’s Gospel. Since Mark was apparently recording the events that he heard Peter tell about, events that Peter had experienced personally, he wrote them as he heard them and doesn’t appear concerned with keeping things in chronological order but arranges them logically. I like to think of Mark as the one with ADHD because of his many run-on sentences, his constant use of the word “immediately,” and his use of statements that just seem to need an explanation point. Then again, this is probably the way he heard Peter telling the stories. Early tradition has the book ending after 16:8 and it is assumed that an unnamed author finishes the final verses of the book.

The Gospel According to Mark seems more focused on the ACTIONS of Jesus, where Matthew was more concerned with the TEACHINGS of Jesus. Next week when we read the account written by Luke, we’ll see a completely different emphasis and the same is true for the account recorded by the Apostle John. Isn’t it interesting that those who compiled the final version of the Bible chose to include all four Gospel accounts? Even though they are different in the way they tell of the events, they all four work together to give us the picture we have today of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Mark 1-3
  • Tuesday: Mark 4-6
  • Wednesday: Mark 7-9
  • Thursday: Mark 10-12
  • Friday” Mark 13-14
  • Saturday” Mark 15-16
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