As Peter closes his 1st epistle he mentions two men that had been helpful to him in preaching the gospel. In a previous lesson I pointed out that there is profit in studying about such men. In the last article we studied the Bible character Silvanus (Silas), the one who delivered Peter’s letter 5:12. In this article let us study about Mark, who Peter refers to as “my son” 5:13, not a fleshly son, but his son in the faith. Cf. Paul and Timothy 1.Tim.1:2.
Who was Mark? Following the chronology of the New Testament we first learn of Mark in Acts 12:12. He is the son of a Christian woman, Mary, and is referred to as ”John whose surname was Mark.” John was his given name, Mark his Latin name. When Paul and Barnabas prepared to go on their 1st missionary journey they took him along Acts 12:25, but when they came to Perga John Mark, for some unstated reason, returned home Acts 13:13. Later, this caused dissension between Paul and Barnabas when they were ready to go on a 2nd preaching tour Acts 15:36-39. Even though there was contention it worked out for good as it put more men into the field of labor. Observe this lesson – sometimes something that seems bad at the time will later work out for good if men follow the principles of Christianity. Mark was Barnabas’ kin (some say cousin, others say nephew) and was able to later redeem himself in the eyes of Paul Col.4:10; 2.Tim.4:11 as well as with Peter. As time went on the name John was dropped and he was known simply as Mark. Cf. Saul to Paul. He was given the privilege of writing the “Gospel of Mark” and is probably the “certain young man” mentioned in Mk.14:52-52. Tradition, not revelation, suggests he was in the priesthood for the wearing of linen, a more expensive material than generally worn that would be the type material a priest would wear. Humility would keep him from naming himself.
Let me pursue a thought here. Think with me as if Mark is the “certain young man” of Mk.14:52-53. This event occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane. Soldiers have come to arrest Jesus. Peter begins to resist by drawing his sword and cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest. He is told to put up his sword. Jesus restores the servant’s ear and His disciples, disheartened, now run away. Jesus is seized by the mob, but there was a certain young man, who had followed Jesus, wearing only a linen sheet, who was seized. Leaving the linen sheet behind, he escaped naked. It has long been supposed that this “certain young man” was Mark, the writer of the Gospel bearing his name. This is a reasonable conclusion. The thing that makes it reasonable that it was Mark who wrote the gospel bearing his name is that only the fleeing man would know the details of that night and write in such an indirect way Mk.14:51-52. Here is the first instance that Mark ran away from standing with the Lord.
So when we read of Mark running away from Paul and Barnabas on the 1st missionary journey it would not be the only time he did not face up to his responsibilities. From these occasions he learned his lesson the hard way. But with maturity, he developed the courage he later demonstrated.
How about you who read this? Have you ever run away from your responsibilities to the Lord and now feel there is no longer any hope? Learn from Mark. He may have failed at times but he finally found his true character. Life is not always easy and simple; we are not always ready to deal with the conflicts and struggles we encounter in life. At times, like Mark, we want to give up and run away from some situation. But instead of running away, learn from Mark. Mark straightened up and became a useful, effective Christian, very useful to the Lord. God gave him a second chance, and He will do the same for us, if we let Him.
Let me point out some other lessons that can be learned by this study of Mark.
1. He was the son of a Christian woman Acts 12:12. This shows the importance of godly parents training their children Prov.22:6; Eph.6:3-4; 2.Tim.3:14-15.
2. Training is much more than just bringing a child to church services. Mark had kin who cared about him Acts 15:36-39; Col.4:10. Having good kin can be of great value to young people. We older people need to be always conscious of our conduct and how it will influence our relatives.
3. Peter spent time in Mark’s home. I am sure there is great value in being more closely associated with spiritual leaders. We see this borne out in 1.Pet.5:13.
4. Mark was a Christian. Even though we are not told how he became one, logic should tell us that he did the same thing Peter instructed people to do on Pentecost Acts 2:38, since he is called “my son.” Peter taught baptism saves 1.Pet.3:21.
5. After becoming a Christian Mark desired to teach others Acts 12:25; 13 ff. To help him he traveled in good company as a Christian. How about you?
6. Just because you make a mistake, don’t give up. Mark stumbled and fell. He went through some bad times for a while. But he didn’t quit, he redeemed himself. Lk.9:62; Gal.6:9. We all experience low points, but just climb out of the hole.
7. Maturity revealed Mark’s true character. He was made of good metal. People can and often change for good. Mark’s example shows us how people, unfaithful in the past, can return and be of great value to the Lord. With Mark’s return he was given the privilege of writing the Gospel of Mark. I am certainly encouraged when I read of Mark’s life. It shows us that mistakes don’t always condemn a person forever. Such things can be rectified. I am glad he lived. What does his life mean to you? Tommy Thornhill