The Gospel of Mark is my favorite. Its narratives are exciting and the Good News is alive upon its pages. The author of the second Gospel is a man named Mark (a.k.a. John or John Mark), a convert of Peter (1 Peter 5:13). I can imagine that young Mark sat with Peter and listened to him recount the miracles, the encounters, the parables, the adventures. Later, Mark, inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, recorded those memories for generations of Christ-followers.
Mark is first introduced in the twelfth chapter of Acts. After James had been beheaded by King Herod, Peter was arrested to await a similar fate (Acts 12:1-3). God miraculously intervened by sending an angel to lead a jailbreak! Free, Peter went to the home of Mary where the church was conducting a prayer meeting. (Imagine that! The church was praying that Peter would be released. God answered their prayer!) Mary’s son was Mark (Acts 12:11-12).
Here's what that may teach us. Mary, a faithful disciple and member of the growing church in Jerusalem, was affluent enough to afford a home that was large enough to accommodate a crowd. Mark was raised in a well-to-do Christian home. We also know that there were other strong Christian influences in Mark’s life. He was a cousin to Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).
When Paul and Barnabas delivered a benevolent gift from Antioch to the church in Jerusalem, it is possible that they stayed in Mary’s home. When they returned to Antioch, they took “along John who was called Mark” (Acts 12:25).
Then, commissioned by the church at Antioch, Barnabas and Paul set out on the first missionary journey. The missionaries took Mark as their young assistant (Acts 13:5). Mark was with them when they sailed to Cyprus and as they ministered in the synagogues in Salamis (Acts 13:5). He was witness to the spiritual battle with the sorcerer (Acts 13:8-11). He must have rejoiced when the proconsul came to saving faith in Jesus (Acts 13:12). And Mark was with them when they sailed north across the Mediterranean into southern Pamphylia (Acts 13:13).
That’s when it happened. “(Mark) left them and went back to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Why? Did he get physically sick, or did he get home-sick? Did Paul and Mark have an argument about theology or concerning leadership style? Was he a quitter? The Bible doesn’t answer these questions.
Later, at the beginning of the second missionary journey, “Barnabas wanted to take along John who was called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed” (Acts 15:37–40).
Years later, after Paul had been imprisoned in Rome, the old Apostle wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy. In some of his last recorded words, he urges Timothy to “bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). At some undisclosed juncture, Paul and Mark were reconciled!
In heaven, Paul, Barnabas and Mark have no memory of those ill-feelings. All is forgiven.
I wonder, is there a Mark in your memory? Someone who hurt you, failed you, rejected you? It’s probably time to move on, to pray: “Father... forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).