Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Gospel According to Mark - Introduction

The Gospel According to Mark with special thanks, first, to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then to Brother Donovan and Dr. Peter Ruckman for their commentaries and thoughts which I will borrow from liberally along with Matthew Henry, John Gill, and many others. Last but not least, my wife Beth will undoubtedly inspire me and give me some great ideas.

Mark is the shortest of the four gospels, written between 60-64 AD. It has 16 chapters, 678 verses, and 15,171 words. It is written by John Mark who is a servant, a minister, and he presents Jesus Christ as a suffering servant. Matthew presents Christ as a Jewish King presenting a Jewish kingdom, Luke as a man going back to Adam, and John presents Him as the Son of God, as God Himself in the flesh.

(Roman Catholic tradition says that Mark wrote from hearing the sermons of Peter based on a statement of the early church father, Papias, and subsequent writers basing their knowledge on that writing. Also, tradition claims that he was Bishop of the church of Alexandria. As Roman Catholic tradition, like Baptist tradition, tends toward agenda rather than truth without further information we have only the Bible to go on for sure and we’ll just stick with that.)

Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. 13:1 ¶ Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 ¶ So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

But, John Mark quits.

13:13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

Perhaps he went back home to Mother.

Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

But, he’s not finished.

Acts 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. 36 ¶ And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

Barnabas, whose name has to do with consolation and restoring someone;

Acts 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

has given John Mark another chance when Paul would not. Paul has a problem with what he perceives to be a quitter. God’s purposes are sometimes at variance with even His most devoted servants. Paul is the one who doesn’t go back to the churches in Cyprus. Barnabas does the noble job of picking someone up when they are down. This is what he did for Paul also in Acts 9.

Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

The fruit of Barnabas’ faith is not until the end of Paul’s ministry.

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Paul accepts the value of John Mark to the ministry.

There is no genealogy in Mark because a servant’s genealogy doesn’t matter. All that matters is the master. Mark focuses on the works of Jesus Christ, not His words. Christ is presented as a great example of prayer in this gospel as we will see. A servant is to be a servant of prayer.

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