Introduction: Imagine with me that we are living in Rome around 60 AD. Not long ago we heard a proclamation about a man named Jesus, who was said to be the anticipated Jewish Messiah. The word is that He was quite an amazing person. He had grown up in Nazareth and began preaching after his cousin John had prepared the way for him by baptizing people and announcing that the is Jesus was the , “Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.” You and I have been told that Jesus was baptized by John and then started preaching all throughout Galilee. Over the next few years had gained quite a reputation for healing and miracle working and authoritative teaching when the Jewish leaders put Him on trial for blaspheming. This supposed messiah ended up suffering the death penalty of crucifixion, but three days later raised from the dead. The men who had preached to us we eyewitness of this resurrection and many had been martyred for testifying about the Savior Jesus Christ.
You and I responded to this gospel message and entrusted our lives to the resurrected Jesus. However, since then we have been under some very hostile persecution. The Emperor Nero has seen fit to use our new band of believers as an example. In recent days we have heard that even the apostle Peter, one of Jesus foremost disciples, was put to death by being crucified upside down. Many of our friends and family members have been put to death and we constantly live under the threat of following their same demise. Can you imagine those circumstances?
Transition: Today, we begin a new series through the book of Mark. Historically, it was a context much like we have just imagined that Mark was writing to in the early days of the Christian church. Please turn with me in your copy of God’s word to the first chapter of mark as we read the first verse together. (Prayer)
Transition: As we usually do when starting to explore any new book in the Bible we begin today with an introduction. And what we find in verse one is really a title and summery of all that is to come in the following 16 chapters. We will look at these verse more in detail next week but today in order to help us begin thinking through what is to come in this series I want to first look at at the particular area of, Authorship. Three emphasis about the authorship of the book of Mark are… That it is revealed by God, received from the apostle Pater, and recognized by the church.
1. Revealed by God. The first point to notice about authorship of Mark is the teaching of Biblical inspiration. Turn to II Timothy 3:16 & II Peter 1:16-21 (Read)
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Point: Mark was carried along by the Holy Spirit to record the very words that were revealed to him to write. By no means does the doctrine of inspiration does take away all personalty and characteristics of the human author, however, it does guarantee that the ultimate authority for the words we are studying is from God.
2. Received from apostle Peter. The emphasis to notice at this point about Mark’s authorship is that his influence for witting an accurate account came also from apostolic authority. One of the criteria for affirming Scripture in the New Testament was that it had to been written or directly influenced by an eyewitness apostle. The overwhelming evidence supports that Peter was the close companion of John Mark and what we have in this gospel is the overflow of Peter’s teaching and preaching. For example turn with me to Acts 10:34-43 Point: The outline of Peter’s sermon is nearly identical for how Mark outlines his proclamation. Notice 37-39. Also, we know that Peter and Mark were closely connected. For example; turn to I Peter 5:13 . And we’ll see other examples later when we look at mark’s background.
She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
3. Recognized by the church. The authorship of Mark is ultimately revealed by God which emphasizes divine inspiration, however this authorship was received by apostolic influence, and lastly as recognized by the church we find the emphasis upon the impact that this gospel has had on Christ followers for centuries.
For example, around AD 140 the Bishop of Hierapolis named Papias is quoted as recording the following, “The Elder (which is a reference to John the apostle) said this also, that Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, he followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he heard and to make no false statements in them.”
Application Point: Since the first century the church has recognized John Mark as the human author of this gospel. The reason this is significant for you and I today is that as we embark upon a study of this Scripture we dare not presume that our authority in approaching this book is of any importance. Rather, as we have already discovered the Gospel of Mark contains God’s revealed word, as received through apostolic witness and has impacted the church since the day it was recorded. The question we must ask now is will I be submissive to the authoritative word of God? You see what we are doing here today is not so much about digging into the Bible as it is the Bible digging into us. The gospel of Mark is the authoritative word of God, we should expect that as we study this text we will be forever changed. The Holy Spirit will use this word to authoritatively transform our hearts, minds, and behaviors. If that seemingly does not occur then we should be first to understand that the problem is not the authority of the Bible, rather it may very well be our hardness of heart.
Illustration: When a chef is making preparations for a meal the edge on their knife is of utmost importance. If it is dull they will have trouble chopping and dicing. If it is razor sharp they might come against some items that are really stone cold hard, but in the end they will succeed in their preparations. The word of God is sharper than a double edged sword. In the hands of the Master Chef it can prepare us and transform us into the image of Christ. However, when our hearts are hardened the friction against our soul may cause us much despair before the of the Chef succeeds in His preparations. May it be true of us that we are humble, and pliable, and welcome the preparations of God’s Word with soft hearts.
Is my heart softening for the authority of God’s Word to change me?
Is my heart softening for the authority of God’s Word to change me?
An Application tool to help us be conformed to the image of Christ through His powerful Word. See back of bulletin. A tool to help familiarize ourselves with Mark’s gospel. Also, find in reading some of the passages some background to answer the question, “Who was John Mark.” A weekly opportunity to unify ourselves around God’s word and prepare for our worship gatherings. But also, to spend time as families/ friends discussing questions that will encourage our worshipful obedience to Christ. Finally, see there is a suggested song to listen to or read in order to reflect and focus our hearts on Christ.
Stand for prayer and our final song.