Who is John Mark?

john_markThe four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Of these four, Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry is the most fast-paced and forceful. Mark wastes no time getting to his blunt assertion that Jesus is the Messiah. By verse 15 of the first chapter, Jesus has already started his ministry [1]!

Authoring one of the four core manuscripts that would someday be included in what we call the New Testament is not where Mark started, though. If we go back to Paul’s initial Gentile missionary journey, we see that John Mark was part of the trip. However, there is an interesting turn of events in Acts 13:13.

From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

We could list a number of reasons that Mark may have left the group, but we can be pretty sure that it wasn’t acceptable to Paul. In fact, Mark’s later reappearance causes a disagreement and split between Paul and Barnabas.

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

This is interesting, but my point is not to recount the history of Mark. This is my point: early in his ministry, Mark bailed out. He walked away from his mission. Here’s the “holy but”… BUT he came back. Not only did he come back, he ended up as one of the authors assigned the monumental task of recording Jesus’ life and ministry.

Wherever you are, however you believe you’ve failed, God has not given up on you. Who is John Mark? You are John Mark! Stand up, point yourself in God’s direction, and continue your ministry. You have the awesome opportunity to share Jesus with a very special person who is waiting just for you.

  1. Mangum, Douglas, 2016, Mark Gospel of Conflict, Bible Study Magazine, p. 7.
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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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