Summary: The message of John the Baptist
Series on the Gospel of Mark
“In the Beginning of the Gospel”
A study of the Book of Mark is fascinating because the account of the life of Jesus found here is a succinct, yet vivid telling of the story. The style is almost abrupt. It begins with the phrase, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) which seems to give the author’s perspective on the account he is about to give about the life of Jesus. The author is telling the reader that the story is not over at the end of his narrative (Mark 16:20). The resurrection of Jesus that ends the narrative is only the beginning of the story, of the good news about Jesus Christ that is to be proclaimed unto the end of the age.
Some have advanced the idea that it is Mark who is the young man that is recorded as having fled from the scene of Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:51), leaving his garment behind. Author and pastor, Ray Stedman goes so far as to advance the theory that perhaps Mark is the Rich Young Ruler who came to Jesus and asked the secret to eternal life (Mark 10:21). Stedman believes that it could have been Mark because his account of this incident records something that neither of the other accounts tells us. He says, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him…” (Mark 10:21), a personal touch that suggest at least to Stedman, that Mark was the rich young ruler. If we accept Mark as the rich young ruler it suggests that rich young ruler did ultimately make the commitment that Jesus asked of him, he did give up everything to follow Jesus. He gave up his inheritance, all his worldly goods to the point that all he had left was his robe, and finally, he even lost that to follow Jesus. No one knows that this is fact but it is an interesting thought. [Ray Stedman. “A Place To Begin” Mk 1:1-8 www.pbc.org]
We officially meet Mark for the first time during the last week of the ministry of Jesus. His mother, Mary, owned the house where the Last Supper was held in the Upper Room. He would have been an observer of the tragic events of the betrayal, trial and execution of Jesus. His mother had been one of the women who were the first witnesses of the resurrection.
We also know that Mark had a shaky beginning in the ministry, when he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but abandoned them in the middle of the trip and decided to return home (Acts 13:13). Paul was so unhappy with Mark that he refused to take him on the second missionary journey precipitating a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas which ended in splitting their partnership (Acts 15:36-41). Although the details are never given there seems to have been a reconciliation between Paul and John Mark. Later Paul would ask Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome because “he is useful in service.” (2 Tim 4:11).
But it would seem that the gospel of Mark is the result of his close association with Paul but with Peter. Peter speaks affectionately of his association with him in his first letter (1 Peter 5:13) where he calls him “Marcus (or Mark) my son.” The gospel of Mark then reflects Peter’s memories, perceptions and experiences with Jesus.
Although the author of the Gospel of Mark is not named, there is strong and clear early tradition that Mark was the author. The study of the gospel according to Mark is important for several reasons. First, the book of Mark is important because it is the oldest of the Gospels – and the very first systemic account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Each of the gospel accounts tells us something different about the person of Jesus. The Gospel of John reveals Christ as the Son of God and emphasizes His deity. Matthew in his gospel account declares Christ as the King and highlights His royalty. The story of Jesus as told by Luke discloses Christ as the Son of Man and stresses His humanity. The Gospel of Mark unveils Christ as the Servant and accentuates His humility.
Secondly, the study of Mark is important because it is the shortest gospel account - it is the gospel of action. In only sixteen chapters the author gives us the complete account of the ministry of Jesus. Mark concentrates on the actions of Jesus, what he does not just what he says.
Finally, the study of the book of Mark is important because it is the gospel of the “second chance.” This is important if John Mark is the author then he is the same young man who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey but left the party at Perga (Acts 13:13). It was he that Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about when Paul refused to take Mark on the second missionary journey. (Acts 15:38-40). If he is the author of the gospel account then not only was he restored to ministry as recorded in 2 Timothy 4:11 but he went on to perform this enormously important work for the Lord. The young man who had failed so miserable in his first attempt to serve at last made good. It is an encouragement to all who have been plagued with failures in their past.