Summary: Describes how Mark serves as a source of understanding and pattern for following Jesus
Last fall, we began our journey through the Bible. We started in Genesis with the creation and we traced the formation of God’s people beginning with the call of Abraham and Sarah. God gave his promise of blessing to them.
Later, we heard the story of Joseph. If you know the story, you know that Joseph, through no fault of his own, ended up in Egypt and even went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But God worked in that situation to bring good out of bad and eventually Joseph’s whole family was saved from famine because he was in Egypt. And that is just the beginning. (Some of you are in the middle of bad times now, but God wants to bring something good out of the bad things you are experiencing.)
In Exodus, we saw how God, through Moses, led all of God’s people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, to the mountain where God gave them his laws, and then toward the promised land. Last month, as we considered Deuteronomy, we saw how important the family is in God’s plan for the world. And we left these people just ready to enter their new land.
We are shifting our attention to the New Testament for this month.
If you have read the book of Mark, you may already know that
1. It is the shortest gospel of the four
2. It moves quickly and uses the word “immediately” a lot
3. It was the first gospel written
What you may not know is how important Mark, the author, was in the life of the church after Jesus left and how important this gospel became for understanding Jesus both then and now. His story helps us understand how a committed young person can play an important role in the life and mission of the church. (I hope we have youth here who want to be totally committed so that God can use you.)
We don’t know exactly how Mark’s life went, but I want to see if we can reconstruct what may have happened.
As a young man, Mark lived in Jerusalem with his mother Mary. (Two teens come to “Jerusalem” on stage left.) He was not one of the 12 disciples, but he knew about Jesus and probably saw Jesus often. In the gospel he wrote, Mark doesn’t mention his own name, but when Jesus was arrested, Mark 14:51,52 says that the soldiers almost caught a young man, but he slipped out of his clothes and ran away naked. Many think this young man might have been Mark. He had risked his life to try to stay close to Jesus and he lost his clothes. Let me ask you, what are you willing to risk to stay close to Jesus? (As someone has said, “if you were hauled into court because you are follower of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”)
Later, we read in Acts, something else happened. Remember the time Peter was in prison and the angel came and opened the doors for him? (Another person comes to “Jerusalem.”) Where did Peter go? He went straight to Mark and Mary’s house because he knew that the other disciples were gathered there! Some people think this may have even been the house that had the upper room in it. If so, Mark might have been able to eavesdrop on the disciples’ conversation with Jesus on the night of that last supper.
After Jesus left this earth, the church in Jerusalem began to grow. Peter was an important leader. He probably took Mark under his wing and trained and mentored him so that he knew and understood everything about Jesus.
It wasn’t long, though, until some people realized that God was asking them to take the message of Jesus to other places. Paul was one of those. (Enter “Jerusalem.”) Remember how he met Jesus on his way to Damascus and was totally transformed? Barnabas was another. (Enter “Jerusalem.”) He is called the son of encouragement in the Bible. They took Mark with them. (Paul, Mark, Barnabas move to “Cyprus” stage center) What good would Mark be on this trip? Acts 13:5 says they had John Mark to assist them. The word used there is the same as the word in Luke 1:2 where Luke says he depended on eyewitnesses and servants of the word. These servants of the word were people in the early church who were recognized as authorities about Jesus. They knew stories of Jesus, where he went, what he did, what he said. So if you wanted to know something about Jesus, ask an eyewitness or a servant of the word.
So, Mark went along as one of these servants of the word, a person who had been trained and who knew the life and traditions about Jesus. Maybe it worked this way. When they went to Cyprus, where Barnabas grew up, Barnabas may have served as leader that day because he knew the people and culture. Then Barnabas would introduce Paul who told of his conversion by the grace of God. After that, people may have asked, “But what about Jesus? What did He say?” Then Mark may have spoken because he was the recognized authority on the life and teachings of Jesus.