The Gospel of Mark--1 220102
During the next three or four months I plan to preach step-by-step through the gospel of Mark! Nowhere in that gospel is the author named. But the strongest tradition of the early church attributes it to a man named John Mark. His mother was one of several Marys found in the Book of Acts. It’s very possible that John was closely associated with the disciples, and with Jesus. He may have been one of the group that was with Jesus when he was arrested. I came to this conclusion when I read: “And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” These verses are found in Mark 14:51-52.
I realize the account does not name the young man who ran away. For that very reason I’m comfortable giving the credit to Mark as the man who wrote the account. Mark certainly knew that the young man ran away but might not have wanted to identify himself as the local streaker. This bit of information is only presented here. It was John Mark who deserted the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey. When Barnabas wanted to take him along on the second missionary journey Paul absolutely refused. We do know that Barnabas and John Mark began a missionary journey. We do not have a record of that trip because they did not have an historian with them, such as Luke, who joined Paul and wrote his own gospel and Acts. Later writings by Paul shows that Mark was later on an important worker alongside Paul.
John Mark was a close relative of Simon Peter and it is believed that the material he presented in his gospel is a compilation of the teaching of Simon Peter. John Mark’s restoration to useful ministry may have been due, in part, to the ministry of Peter. Peter’s close relationship with Mark is evident from his description of him as “Mark my son” in 1 Peter 5:1.
This book was probably the first written gospel accepted by the majority of the church. Both Matthew and Luke contain the material given to us in Mark.
The first sentence in the book could easily be the title. And would very likely explain why there is no birth narrative nor reference to the early years of Jesus life.
Mark wanted to focus on the gospel story so he wrote:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
“Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua “the LORD is salvation”; “Christ” the “anointed one” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name that the angel gave to Joseph and to Mary; “Christ” signifies His office as ruler of God’s coming kingdom. “Son of God” is an affirmation of Jesus’ deity, stressing His unique relationship to the Father.
Then he picks up with verse two:
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”
Mark is quoting from the Old Testament prophets. This established his credentials at the beginning. He must not have considered a birth narrative necessary. The John he begins with is John the Baptizer. This John the people knew well. John the disciple tells us that the Baptist began his ministry on the far side of the River Jordan. It was a wilderness place and great crowds came to him to hear the good news. By quoting from the prophets Mark binds the old with the new.
Then Mark began with, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Mark introduces the Baptizer as one who proclaimed their need to repent and seek forgiveness. He did not preach an easy belief gospel. When asked, he gave specific answers to what the various social groups should do as evidence of their repentance. Homework: look at Jesus’ proclamation found in Matthew 11:7-16 and Mark 11:20-33.
6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
John did not fit in with society’s expectations of a popular preacher. These have not changed much over the years. He called the people who came to him “snakes” and directed them to bear fruit demonstrating their repentance. He knew someone would be following him who would baptize them with Holy Spirit.
8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
He did not name Jesus as the messiah until Jesus arrived at the Jordan. I believe John the disciple did not know, prior to Jesus’ asking for baptism. reported that when Jesus was baptized the Spirit descended on him like a dove. God the Father set the record straight by proclaiming that John called Jesus “The Lamb of God”. John 1:29 and 36
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Father clearly identified Jesus as His Beloved Son who pleased him. Today’s expectation of the blessings that come along with the Holy Spirit would not be recognized. When Jesus was baptized Mark tells us: 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Having been driven, by the Spirit, into the wilderness, Jesus was there forty days being tempted by Satan. He was sustained by angels who ministered to him throughout his temptation.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
John was arrested and Jesus took up the message. REPENT! John had reproved Herod Antipas over his marriage to his brother’s wife -- who was also his niece. Herod feared John because so many people followed him. Later Herod would be tricked into beheading John.
Jesus knew he was on Herod’s wanted list and was also wanted by the scribes and Pharisees in Judea. Jesus knew the time had not yet come to confront his enemies. His ministry was just beginning.
Jesus went into Galilee preaching the good news that the Father was confirming in his life. As he traveled he was led to the sea shore of the Lake of Galilee.
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
When we compare the gospel stories we remember that it had been Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and another disciple to whom John the Baptist twice announced “Behold the Lamb of God…” John 1:29 and 36. Now, a few days later, Jesus saw the same men.
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
There was no hesitation on their part. First Andrew and Simon …
19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
I believe their earlier meeting with Jesus had been the subject of many discussions around their meals and as they worked. Their father had heard enough to convince him that this call from Jesus was to be expected and obeyed.
Since Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist it is possible that Peter had been as well. They had evidently returned to their fishing business after John’s arrest. They had already met and spent time with Jesus but were now called to follow Him permanently.
“Jesus defined their regimen “I will make you become fishers of men.”
The greatest call, even today, is to follow Jesus and encourage people to come with you. The greatest joy will be arriving at the throne to find people waiting to stand with you because of your influence in their lives.
All people need to know they are born separated from God. That separation can be corrected. Romans 5:8, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And,,, Romans 6:20-23
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I challenge you. Have you settled your faith in Jesus Christ?
Romans 10:9-10 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.