Scripture reading Mark 1

Having introduced the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, we now turn our attention to The Gospel According to Mark, whose human author was John Mark. This is the second of two devotionals for today’s Scripture reading.

Who was John Mark?

While the authors of the other Gospels are named among Christ’s Twelve apostles, John Mark was not a disciple.  The Book of Acts identified him as a citizen of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).  Though it is impossible to state with certainty, some believe he was the man whom Mark himself identified as “a certain young man” (Mark 14:51). That “young man” was with Jesus when He was betrayed and arrested, and fled into the night without his robe when Christ’s enemies “laid hold on him” (Mark 14:50-52).

Mark later became a traveling companion of Barnabas and Paul (Acts 12:25; 13:1-5). Unfortunately for John Mark, his journey with Paul and Barnabas became a spiritual crisis and ended abruptly; we read, “John [i.e., Mark] departing [deserting] from them [Paul and Barnabas] returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13).

The cause for John Mark’s sudden departure is not revealed. It might have been the hardships of travel; however, I believe it was the ever-present threat of persecution. John Mark reappeared in Acts 15 and became a point of conflict between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39). As they prepared to depart on their second missionary excursion, “Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark” (Acts 15:37).  Paul, however, “thought it not good [desirable] to take [John Mark], who departed from [quit; deserted] them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work” (15:38). The dispute over John Mark’s company became so contentious, “they [Paul and Barnabas] departed asunder one from the other” (15:39-41).

What became of John Mark?

We do not know what transpired in John Mark’s life after his departure with Barnabas to Cyprus (Acts 15:39). What we do know, however, gives cause for all believers to rejoice in God’s grace.

Mark went on to distinguish himself as one of God’s faithful servants, and is the author of the Gospel of Mark! How did John Mark go from a man with whom the apostle Paul was unwilling to travel, to becoming the author of the second Gospel in our New Testament?

Though Paul regarded him as a disappointment, Barnabas looked on John Mark through the eyes of a mentor, and lovingly restored him to fellowship and ministry.  Perhaps it was this real-life lesson that moved Paul’s heart when he wrote: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).

Reflecting on the grace and mercies of God, we understand, the LORD has not called His servants to be perfect, but to be faithful! (1 Corinthians 4:2)

 What a blessing to know: God restores failures and uses imperfect people!

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