Summary: Travelling with Paul : John Mark (Learning from failure) - sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Mark the Man:

• (1a). His Name.

• (1b). His Family.

• (1c). His Attitude.

(2). Mark the Missionary:

• (2a). He Had Church Support (vs 3).

• (2b). He Had God's Blessing (vs 4).

• (2c). He Had A Smooth Departure (vs 4b).

• (2d). He Had An Idyllic Destination (vs 4b).

• (2e). He Had A Difficult Experience (vs 5).

• (2f). He Had A Crisis Of Faith (vs 13b).

• (2g). He Had A Friend Who Cared (vs 15:26-39)

(3). Mark the Minister:

• (3a). Colossians chapter 4 verse 10:

• (3b). Philemon verses 23-24.

• (3c). Second Timothy chapter 4 verse 11.

• (3d), Mark's Gospel


(1). Mark the Man:

(1a). His Name.

The first thing to note about Mark is that he had three names:


• Latin name: ‘Mark/ Marcus’.

• Which means 'Warlike'

• (and that tells us his family had Roman connections maybe even Roman citizenship,).


• His Hebrew name, because he was Jewish was: 'Yohanan / John':

• Which means: 'God is gracious'.


• Tradition gives him another name (Greek): ‘Kolobadattoloss’.

• Nickname and means: 'Stubby-fingered'.

• One day God would use those stubby fingers;

• To write what most scholars now regard as the earliest written gospel.

(1b). His Family:

• His mother was a well-to-do Jewish lady of Jerusalem;

• Her name was 'Mary' in Hebrew 'Miriam'.

• We read about her in Acts chapter 12 verse 12:

• Which tells us the early church used to meet in her house to pray.

• So ‘housegroups’ are not a new thing, they are actually quite old fashioned!

• We have no evidence who his Father was;

• But that of course does not stop people guessing.

• Some scholars have suggested he was the man mentioned in Mark chapter 14 verse 13.

• When Jesus tells two of his disciples to g look for a man carrying the water pot.

(1c). His attitude.

• Mark is mentioned frequently in the New Testament:

• But always as a number two, never the main player.

• He is always someone's assistant.


• Leonard Bernstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra,

• Was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play.

• Without hesitation, he replied: “The second fiddle”.

• He went on to say;

“I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem; and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

• TRANSITION: John Mark played the second fiddle;

• For three of the great leaders in the early church:

• Barnabas (His uncle) (Acts chapter 12 verse 25).

• The apostle Paul (Acts chapter 12 verse 25).

• Mark also assisted the apostle Peter:

• He acted as his interpreter when he was in Rome (1 Peter chapter 5 verse 13).

• After all Galilean fishermen were not too hot on their Latin.


• In fact we know from historical records outside the Bible,

• i.e. The 2nd century historian Papias:

• Mark was asked by the church in Rome,

• To record Peter's story and teaching of Jesus.

• Now Peter wasn't all that keen, in fact the record says:

• "He (Peter) neither hindered nor encouraged Mark to do this".

• Paraphrase:

• "You can if' you like, I'm not bothered".

• Two thousand years later we have that record, a book in our Bibles:

• Because ‘stubby fingered’ Mark kept a record of Peter's eye-witnessed stories,


• Now this morning I want to focus in on one incident in the life of Mark.

• You can do that with all these characters who travelled with Paul.

• Focus in on one incident or one characteristic.

• i.e. Aquilla & Priscilla: A Godly Marriage God used them together in Mission work.

• i.e. Barnabas: Encouragement in name and in ministry.

• i.e. Dr Luke: Historian.

• Luke seems to have invented a style of historical writing;

• Which was not commonly practiced in those days.

• John Mark.

• i.e. From failure to success.


• If ever you have failed, remember you are in good company!

• YouTube:

• Quote: William Brown.

• “Failure is an event, never a person.”

(2). Mark the Missionary:

Bible Reading: Acts chapter 13 verse 1-13.

• It's very easy when reading the Bible to be idealistic:

• To glamorise, and therefore to lose the reality of a situation:


Christmas story.

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head,

The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus a sleep on the hay…

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