-Helper of Others-
John Mark was a Jew, a Judean Hebrew and son of Mary of Jerusalem, both of whom were leading Christians at Jerusalem at the time of the beginnings of the Christian Church. It is not recorded if Mark was married.
His Roman name, Mark meant 'polite', and his Hebrew name of John is interpreted as 'God is gracious'.
Mark accurately preserved the accounts of Jesus' life. Even though Mark's gospel is the shortest of the four, it is the first one that was written, recorded around the years 50-60 A.D. Mark may have received most information about Jesus' life from Peter's preaching and from many early disciples who had travelled with Jesus for the 3 and a half years of His ministry.
Mark wrote to gentile (non-Jewish) believers and explained Jewish customs and recorded his text with emphasis on the teachings of Jesus on discipleship, a vivid account of Jesus' ministry and The Cross. Although Mark emphasised the humanity of Jesus, he did not neglect His deity.
Mark had the blessings of a godly home and his life was lived in the company of godly men. Mark was not one of the original twelve disciples. He became an apostle evangelist and a great historian and gave faithful service. He was a witness to the early church's small beginnings from its birth, meeting in his family home in Jerusalem, to the extension of foreign missions and a wide proclamation of The Gospel. Mark's mother Mary, was a wealthy woman and Aunt of the apostle Barnabas, who was also a prophet and teacher. Cousin Barnabas was also wealthy, and in Barnabas, Mark had a strong and gifted friend. Mark was also a close companion and an associate of The Apostle Peter for 12 years.
His father is not mentioned, his mother may have been a widow. Mark was deeply attached to his mother. Mark was related to the Levite family which was the priestly tribe. He was taught to respect his mother, but reverence for God would have been the starting point of his education. Growing up within his family, Mark would have been encouraged to ask questions about the Jewish religion and the Jewish history, as well as learning parts of The Scriptures by memory.
In the New Testament times wealthy families usually had houses with a few court-yards, each surrounded by rooms. Mark would have had the luxury of fine woollen blankets and the comfort of a high bed rather than a mattress on the floor that had to be rolled up every morning. High tables and chairs, mosaic floors were common among the houses that belonged to the rich who lived in Jerusalem. Meals of the wealthy were usually a Roman styled three main course meal, added with pastries and fruit. Those of peasant homes sat on the floor to eat vegetable stew from a common pot.
Mark's mother had a house in Jerusalem that served as a meeting place for believers before and after the death and resurrection of Jesus. It became a prayer house for believers.
There were in Jesus' time a quarter of a million people living in Jerusalem. It's streets crowded with people buying and selling everything from the necessities to the most luxurious items offered by every kind of merchant. Jerusalem provided restaurants and wine shops for the not so wealthy.
Mark, along with many other inhabitants of Jerusalem and visitors would have watched Jesus arrive in the city at the beginning of the week, for everyone had expected Him to attend The Devout Ceremony. During the time of this important Religious Festival (the Feast of the Unleavened bread and The Passover), when Jerusalem was very much over-crowded at the consecrated celebration, Mark witnessed the betrayal and arrest of Jesus.
On the eve of one of the most solemn of Jewish Festivals, Jesus had His last meal. After the breaking up of the Supper Party (most probably held at Mark's family home in Jerusalem), Jesus and His disciples stayed on the Mount of Olives to pray instead of going on to Bethany to sleep. Jesus knew He had to wait for the time of his betrayal and arrest to come.
Mark had followed the group clothed in only a linen night-shirt as they left after the meal which was had in an upper room. He accompanied them as they went out of the gate of the city and made their way to the olive grove called the Garden of Gethsemane where there were long moments of anxious waiting until one by one from fatigue, the disciples dropped asleep as Jesus prayed.
About midnight the lights from an arresting party were seen afar off. Mark saw that Judas led a band of young priests, temple guards and soldiers, all were carrying swords and clubs to arrest Jesus in the Garden, and that he acknowledged Jesus with a kiss. Peter wanted to fight against them. He struck the servant of the High Priest, cutting his ear off with a sword. Jesus immediately stopped him and healed the man's ear.
The disciples with Jesus panicked and fled. Mark was the young man who followed Christ when all His disciples forsook Him and fled (Mk 14:51) but also fled in panic when a guard caught him, but he escaped although his night-shirt was torn off in the process and he ran away completely naked. The fine linen garment that Mark left behind in the hand of the guard indicated he was from a wealthy family.
When Peter and John began to follow along behind, they saw the small party of men lead an unresisting prisoner along the rocky narrow passage, which took them between the mountains that bordered the eastern face of The Temple wall and led to the head-quarters of His enemies.
Mark and his mother's household would have been aware the following days of Jesus' illegal night trial and of His appearance before Pontius Pilate. They would have heard about how Jesus suffered, died and was buried in the garden tomb and how 3 days later He rose from the dead and most likely saw His ascension 40 days later.
After Jesus' ascension, His eleven Chosen Disciples and other believers went to where they were staying in Jerusalem (many believe that this was Mark's mother's house), where a new disciple was chosen to take Judas's place.
Mark's mother Mary had servants and was aware she put all those in her home and family in obvious danger from the religious and political authorities because of it being made available to Christians. His mother continued to be loyal to Christian ideals and she became known as Mary of Jerusalem, who was one of the leaders of the early church that began to meet in her house. Believers in Jerusalem at that time numbered 120, including women.
Fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, believers in Jerusalem received The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the prophecy of the Old Testament prophet, Joel, that the Spirit would be poured out upon all people, sons and daughters, old men and women irrespective of sex or age.
It was to Mark's family home that Peter, who was one of Jesus' Chosen Disciples, first went after an angel miraculously intervened and led him out of prison. The house being quite large enough to hold a number of believers, gathered there to pray.
Mark was a close associate of the Apostle Peter and was at the church in Jerusalem when Paul and Barnabas came. Paul and Barnabas had brought gifts from the church in Antioch for Judean Christians, needing famine relief (this famine was predicted by the prophet at the Anticoh church). Barnabas and Mark were cousins. When they returned to Antioch they took Mark from the Jerusalem church with them.
Mark became a helper to Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey as an associate apostle. Mark assisted Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. From Antioch, the capital of the province of Syria, the first missionaries, Paul, Barnabas and Mark set out in 45 A.D. Mark's involvement on the journey was short-lived. They preached in Cyprus and sailed on and went to the province of Asia (Turkey) where Mark had deserted them because he was homesick for Jerusalem. He also returned because of fear of danger in the mountainous country.
Barnabas suggested Mark as a missionary companion two years later to Paul, but Paul refused. Mark's previous actions broke up their working relationship. This however resulted in two missionary parties instead of one.
Barnabas took his cousin Mark, and they revisited Cyprus, the island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea where they had previously travelled on their first trip.
Peter, Barnabas and Paul had a godly influence on young Mark. Over the years Mark had opportunity to become a valuable helper not only to Barnabas, but to Paul and Peter. He continued to be a fellow worker and became helpful to Paul's ministry. He became an apostle.
He had proven he was a keen observer as he had listened to Peter's accounts of the years of Jesus and was one of the first to put Jesus' life in writing.
Mark, over time had fully regained Paul's favour (Phil 24) and he was recommended by Paul to the Church at Colosse. Paul called Mark a loyal friend. Peter referred to him as 'my son Mark'.
Mark went on to establish churches in Alexandria. Tradition records there he was martyred and his remains were carried to Venice.
Mark was a good learner and needed encouragement. He was young and eager to do the right thing but had trouble staying with his decisions.
Mark challenges believers to learn from mistakes. Personal maturity comes from a combination of time and mistakes. He proved that effective living is measured by what is done to overcome to accomplish it.
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