Tag Archives: John Mark

Mark

The Book of Mark in the bibleThe book of Mark, named after its author, is one of the four Gospels, biographies that focus on the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The book of Mark is the shortest and most concise. It is an ideal source to quickly gain an essential understanding of who Jesus is and what he did.

The gospel of Mark, likely written by John Mark, is considered to be the first gospel written. It is a fast-moving narrative, clearly communicated in dramatic description; it is simultaneously simple yet also equally profound. It’s the shortest of the four books that chronicle the life of Jesus.

There are many parallel passages in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not too many with the John.

4 Johns but 1 Mark

In “Another Man with Two Names” we talked about a guy known as John Mark. Although no one knows why he’s called John Mark, it does distinguish him from other men in the Bible named John.

In addition to John Mark, I count four guys in the Bible with the name of John:

It seems there is only one guy called Mark. Mark is mentioned eight times in the New Testament (three times as John Mark, twice as Mark, but referring to John Mark, and three times as Mark, likely referencing John Mark.)

Lastly, John Mark (sometimes called Mark) may have been the author of the book of Mark. Wouldn’t it be confusing if we called his book John-Mark, instead?

Another Man With Two Names

Last week we talked about Simon Peter, a guy with two names. Another man with two names is John Mark. Unlike Abraham and Sarah who received new identities from God and Peter who got his second name from Jesus, the origin of John Mark’s two names seems to lack divine origin.

Perhaps his parents gave him one name at birth and his other label, a nickname bestowed by friends. Maybe he needed two names to avoid confusion with other guys named John and other dudes called Mark.

Regardless John Mark’s dual name does not seem to have any spiritual significance, but to simply be practical.

Even so, John Mark is a fun name to say.

[Read more about John Mark in “Lessons from the Life of John Mark” and “The Comeback of John Mark.”]

Demas, the Deserter

Whereas John-Mark had an early collapse and then made a comeback, Demas started strong but ended in failure.

Demas began well.  In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Demas is called a co-worker and in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Demas sends his greetings.  Clearly he was involved with Paul’s ministry in a helpful and supportive role.

However, in one of Paul’s darker moments, he sadly laments that Demas “loved the world” and “deserted me.”  Despite his one-time standing as a co-laborer of Paul, Demas did not finish well.

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  Demas first looked back and then he went back, turning his back on Paul, on ministry, and on God.

Unlike John/Mark who started poorly and finished strong, Demas started well and finished poorly.

Looking on our past, we see both successes and failures.  Today we stand at a crossroads.  What will our future look like?  Will we turn our back on our faith like Demas or finish well like John-Mark?

[Philemon 1:24, Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:10, Luke 9:62]

The Comeback of John-Mark

A person who keeps resurfacing in the Bible is a man with two names.  Sometimes he is Mark and sometimes he is John.  For clarity, Luke often refers to him as “John, also called Mark”; John-Mark for short.

John-Mark’s story begins in Acts.  When Peter is miraculously released from prison he heads to the home of John-Mark’s mom, Mary.  They are praying for Peter at that time; John-Mark is likely a part of that prayer meeting.

Later, Barnabas (John-Mark’s cousin) and Paul take him on a missionary journey, but John-Mark bales on them early on and returns home, to Jerusalem.  Later, Barnabas wants to give his cousin a second chance, but Paul adamantly disagrees and the two-part company over John-Mark’s failure.

However, the story doesn’t end there.  John-Mark makes a comeback and wins Paul over.  In Paul’s various letters, he affirms their relationship, calls John-Mark a coworker, and asks the church to accept and welcome him.  John-Mark is also affirmed by Peter.

John Mark rushed into ministry before he was ready — he didn’t “count the cost” — and did not prove to be faithful.  Despite his poor start, he turned things around and finished well, helping both Paul and Peter.  He is likely the author of the gospel of Mark.

[Acts 12:12, 25, Acts 13:5, 13, Acts 15:37-40, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24, Colossians 4:10, 1 Peter 5:13, Luke 14:28]

Philemon and His Friends

The short, often overlooked book of Philemon is tucked towards the end of the New Testament, nestled between letters to Titus and to the Hebrews.

Philemon is a letter written by Paul to his friend Philemon about a man of mutual interest, Onesimus.

The short version is that Onesimus is a slave who runs away from his master, Philemon.  Onesimus meets Paul, who tells him about Jesus, mentors him, and encourages him to do the right thing by returning to his master.  To help facilitate the reunion, Paul jots a quick note to Philemon, which has been preserved for us in the Bible.

In addition to Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus, there are eight other names mentioned in this brief correspondence: Timothy, Apphia, Archippus, Epaphras, Aristarchus, Mark, Demas, and Luke.  For each there is a story to be told and insight to be gained.

Of course, Jesus is also rightly mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, a total of six times.  Jesus is actually the central character in this story, for it all revolves around him.

Is Jesus the central character in your story, does your life all revolve around him?

[Philemon]