Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gospel of Mark


Mark was not one of the disciples of Jesus as many people imagine.

· This past Monday morning staff bible study emphasis.
· Barna Research findings for 2010

1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.

It is alarming to realize that the majority of people in the church do not know what they believe and from those who do claim to know what they believe, most cannot articulate why they believe what they claim to believe.

For example: Research showed that currently while most people regard Easter as a religious holiday, only a minority of adults associate Easter with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This speaks for itself …

So, what shall we do? We are going take it upon ourselves to address and correct this deficit, beginning with some basic bible surveys. This year I hope to give you more than just an added principle of life whereby you can grab a solution for a problem or obtain wisdom for a goal in life. I hope to leave you more doctrinally sound, spiritually connected, and theologically educated. Plus, we’ll still have time to learn solutions of life along the way.

I have decided to begin our journey toward biblical literacy by surveying the book of Mark. It’s an easy read without all the genealogies, which we can get to later in the year. The book of Mark is all about the earthly ministry life and miracles of Jesus. It is a power packed book.

First we are going learn some about who this man Mark actually was. After all, if we are going to appreciate what He said, perhaps it will do us good to get t know him a little. We know he was not a disciple of Jesus or one of the Apostles, but who was he then?

Mark was:
· Most likely converted as a result of Peter’s ministry in Jerusalem.

1 Peter 5:13 The Church that is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.

· He was a nephew, (NKJV - “cousin”, part of the brood), of Barnabas

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salutes you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, …

· His mother’s name was Mary and the apostles and leaders of the first Church in Jerusalem often gathered in her home.

Acts 12:12 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.

· Mark’s Hebrew name was John and he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey from the church in Antioch.

Acts 13:5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

· Mark however, did not complete that first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas but rather left them early in Pamphylia. This brought him into “undependable” status with Paul who refused to take him along the next time.

Acts 15:38 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.

· It was most likely after John Mark’s return from Pamphylia to Jerusalem that he accompanied Peter on a missionary journey to Babylon. Mark considered Peter his father in the faith.

1 Peter 5:13 The church that is at Babylon, elect together with you, salutes you; and so does Mark my son.

· Probably upon his return from the Babylonian mission’s trip, Mark found his way again to the Church at Antioch. Whereupon, being rejected for use by Paul, was chosen by his uncle Barnabas thereby accompanied him on a voyage to the island of Cyprus.

Acts 15:39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;

· Later on, when Paul is in prison in Rome, he asked Timothy to bring Mark to Rome because he had some ministry that he needed Mark to do for him.

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

· Mark remained with Paul while he was in prison for some time, how long we do not know, but we see him there as a fellow laborer with Paul and others when Paul writes his letter to Philemon.

Philemon 1
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

· Some of the early church fathers, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome, give us to understand that when Mark left Rome he later went to Alexandria, Egypt, and started a church there and died in Alexandria in AD64 and was buried there.
· If you travel to Venice, Italy, you will no doubt visit the Piazza San Marco, or in English, Saint Mark’s Square. It is the social center of the city and so picturesque. Supposedly Napoleon called it the “drawing room of Europe”. It is told that 2 Venetian merchants stole the bones of Mark, minus his head, from Alexandria in 828 and brought them to Venice. A church was built to house these relics and thus the new patron saint of Venice took his place alongside the Doge and the Archbishop. (Enough of that …)

It is widely accepted that John Mark compiled the Gospel of Mark sometime between AD 56 & AD 63, after the time when all of the Apostles of the Lamb had left from Jerusalem to be busy spreading the Gospel of their Lord in accordance with the Great Commission as attested by him.

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

What gave Mark the wherewithal to write this, the second Gospel account in the New Testament? After all, Mark was neither an Apostle nor perhaps a disciple of Christ … how then did Mark know the Gospel and what gave him the credibility to pen words with such authority and divine inspiration?

The fact of the acceptance of this Gospel as the inspired Word of God has never been questioned. Why? - Primarily because of its evident origin and oversight as having come directly from the Apostle Peter. Some early church fathers and historians suggest that Peter was excessively humbled in his own mind and therefore forbid himself to take upon himself any credit to write such an account even by request. So these continual requests from those desiring such account of the life and work of Jesus fell upon Peter’s closest companion and interpreter, Mark.

This may account for some anomalies contained in the Gospel. For example: We see that even though Mark writes accurately concerning the accounts of the Gospel, he somehow gets the occurrences into a slightly different order than do the other three writers of the Gospels. This could be accounted for by understanding that the stories passed on by Peter to Mark were not given in a chronological order but were rather recalled from memory by the circumstances of the day or the matters at hand … much like anyone else remembers pointed moments from their past.

There are two most interesting passages to compare among the Gospel accounts which may give insight into the connection between Mark’s Gospel record and the Apostle Peter’s involvement.

Note that Matthew records the moments after Jesus’ resurrection in which an Angel instructs those women to inform the disciples as to what they should do.

Matthew 28:7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

Now observe Mark’s account of this same moment:

Mark 16:7 "But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."

Another passage to consider for these purposes involves the denial of Christ by Peter at the trial. Let’s look at these four accounts:

Matthew 26:34 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

Luke 22:34 Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

John 13:38 Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

Mark 14:30 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times."

Mark is the only one who recalls Jesus as having said to Peter that the rooster would crow twice. And in fact, Mark is the only one who also records the first crow of the rooster and that the rooster did crow a second time at the third denial of Christ by Peter.

Mark 14
67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth."
68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are saying." And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.

71 Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this Man of whom you speak!"
72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And when he thought about it, he wept.

As we might imagine, these things were much more memorable in such detail to Peter, the one to whom Jesus directly spoke these things and to whom they actually happened.

I find it interesting on Peter’s behalf, that both he and Judas betrayed Jesus that night; one went out and hanged himself and one went out and wept. (As Luke 22:62 says, Peter went out and wept bitterly.)

It is evident that Mark’s account of the Gospel was directly influenced by Peter. Some who are in much better position than I attest that Peter read and embraced Mark’s letter as the true account of the earthly ministry life and times of Jesus. Of its truth there can be no doubt.

Even though Mark was not one of the original Apostles, the Gospel according to Mark is the Word of the Living God recorded, preserved and translated for all generations of the world so that they can know Christ Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior.

Next week we will begin studying the message it contains for all mankind in efforts to strengthen our doctrine and stabilize our faith.