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They Walked with God: Mark the Evangelist

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Text: Acts 12:6-12
Theme: Mark was a product of a Christian community, who failed in ministry but got a second chance and ultimately reconciled with Paul.
Date: 10/14/2018 File name: GospelOfMark01.wpd ID Number:
Mark walked with God. The Mark I’m referring to is the author of the Gospel that bears his name, and who is frequently referred to in the New Testament as John Mark. Historically the Church has referred to him as Mark the Evangelist since he is 1) The author of one of the four gospels that together are called the evangel — the good news of the story of Jesus Christ, and 2) Because tradition says that, after the Apostle Peter’s death in Rome, John Mark traveled to Alexandria, Egypt to preach to the gospel, and was ultimately martyred there.
All through the New Testament, his name is peppered in here and there. He doesn’t stand out as a primary character, but when you dig in and look for him and his life, it’s a story of conversion, failure, of redemption, and faithfulness.

I. MARK: A YOUNG MAN WHO CAME TO CHRIST BY THE INFLUENCE OF FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS

(there are three elements that stand out in his experience)
1. 1st, John Mark was the product of a Christian home
a. from several references in the Book of Acts, we can glean that John Mark lived with his mother Mary in Jerusalem
1) her son’s name is John Mark
b. the indication seems to be that John Mark’s mother was a woman of means who had a sizeable home, big enough to accommodate a large group of people
ILLUS. The fact that Mary is never further identified beyond her first name is a strong indication, that virtually everyone in the early church knew who Luke was referring to. She didn’t need any other identification. She’s simply “Mary with the big house where the Christians meet,” and that clearly identified her to most of the early disciples.
1) we know from Acts 1:15 that before the Day of Pentecost swelled their numbers, that the early church in Jerusalem numbered about 120 people
2) Acts 2:1 tells us that on the Day of Pentecost that the entire church was gathered in one home
3) we think it’s Mary’s home
c. Mary is wholeheartedly devoted to Christ and his church and makes her home available whenever it was needed by the Christian community
1) it was in her house that the disciples met to pray for the release of Peter from prison
“Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.” (Acts 12:11–12, NIV84)
2) it is here in Acts 12:12 that we first read of John Mark, but it will not be the last
a) it’s about A.D. 44 — a decade since the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus
b) John Mark is a young adult probably in his mid-twenties, and a member of The Way there in Jerusalem
c. we also know John Mark was related to Barnabas
“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)” (Colossians 4:10, NIV84)
1) so John Mark was the product of a Christian home
d. blessed are children who grow up in a Christian home where Christ is honored and worshiped
2. 2nd, John Mark was the product of a vibrant church
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42, NIV84)
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:32–35, NIV84)
a. after the resurrection, the disciples became bold witnesses — John Mark saw that
1) we find Peter and John and the other Apostles preaching the gospel and the church is growing by leaps and bounds
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7, NIV84)
b. by the time we get to Acts 12, the church has been expanding for a decade
1) Saul, the terror of the church, has been converted and becomes Paul the missionary
2) Peter has taken the gospel to the Gentiles and churches are springing up in other communities — and John Mark is a witness of this phenomenal growth
c. in Acts 12, Herod Agrippa has arrested James and puts him to death and then arrests Peter in order to do they same
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:1–5, NIV84)
d. when Peter is arrested and imprisoned, we find the early church gathered at what must have been a pretty intense prayer meeting
1) Peter is miraculously delivered — and John Mark is there when Peter begins banging on the door
e. John Mark was undoubtedly a witness to the ministry and fellowship and teaching of the Apostles
f. blessed are children who grow up in a gospel-preaching, Christ-honoring, church
3. 3rd. John Mark was the product of influential Christians
a. we don’t know what kind of relationship the young John Mark may have had with Jesus
1) there is one tantalizing piece of information in John Mark’s Gospel indicating that as a young teenager John Mark was a follower of Christ
“Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” (Mark 14:44–52, ESV)
2) John Mark is the only gospel that gives us this little tidbit of information, and a lot of people think that John Mark is inserting himself into the story
a) there is simply no reason to share this seemingly insignificant piece of information unless this happens to be a vivid, first-hand account of the event by a participant of the event
b) a young un-named man, following Jesus and the disciples is seized in what we would call his underwear, and he gladly leaves it behind, running away naked, in great fear of his life
c) it is such a personal detail; the sort of thing that only an eyewitness would remember
3) so it seems probable that John Mark may have known and been a follower of Jesus
ILLUS. I can’t help but wonder if Mary, John Mark’s mother, was one of the women whom we’re told supported Jesus’ ministry financially. And, I wonder if Jesus ever mussed the hair on John Mark’s head. This is all conjecture, of course.
b. what we know for sure is that John Mark was well acquainted with men like Barnabas, Peter and the other disciples from a young age, and would, in time, become an acquaintance and companion of the Apostle Paul
1) in 1 Peter 5:13, the apostle Peter refers to John Mark as his son which may be an indication that the Apostle was responsible for leading the young man to faith in Christ
2) if nothing else, it implies that Peter took a young John Mark under his wing and helped him grow and mature in his faith
c. then there were his travels with men like Barnabas, Paul, Silas, Luke and others
d. blessed are the children who grow up with faithful examples of the authentic Christian life

A. WHAT’S THE LESSON? It Takes a Faith Community to Grow a Christian

ILLUS. Loan-wolf Christianity seldom produces mature believers. I have encountered this attitude many times in social media and in person. The attitude of disillusionment with “established” religion and a kind of contempt towards formalized worship. The mantra is everywhere: “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” Well ... yes; it is a relationship, but it’s a relationship that includes a religion. And part of this religion, which we call Christianity, envolves meeting together with a body of believers, sitting under gospel preaching, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and ministering to each other. Yes, many churches have been disappointing. There have been schisms, scandals, frauds, and embarrassments. But the answer is not to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum, reject church life altogether and adopt a “lone wolf” Christianity. Not only is this completely against scripture, but also it is detrimental to a healthy walk with Christ. When we’re walking this path alone, we’re actually starving ourselves.
1. in John Mark’s Christian walk, we see the influential faith of a mother, the influential faith of other mature believers, and the influential faith of a faith community all converging and spiritually forming a young believer
a. one of the axioms of the Christian faith is the greater the Christian influence in a person’s life, the better are the odds of producing a healthy maturing Christian
b. if any one of those influences are diminished, the possibility of falling away is significantly increased
ILLUS. Non-churched parents can send their children to VBS or Church Camp where their child comes under the influence of Scriptures, the love of godly counselors, and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and make a profession of faith. But if they return to a home where dad and mom have no spiritual desire in their own lives, the chances of their child reaching any maturity in Christ is nil. But those parents will congratulate themselves on “exposing” their children to religion. Conversely, Christian parents who read the bible to their children and pray with their children, and have spiritual conversations with their children, but who are sporadic in their church attendance will usually produce nominal Christians who forever see involvement in church as optional if some more interesting event presents itself.
2. Being Part of a Community of Faith Gives Us an Environment That Encourages Our Faith to Grow
a. just like how the heat from a heap of burning coals increases with each piece of coal added, our faith is encouraged to grow all the more when we fellowship with, and pray with, and sing with, and worship with brothers and sisters in Christ
1) remove those things and the fire dies
b. when a Christian is alone among a group of unsaved people, there's a higher risk for peer pressure and non-Christian influence to snuff out that Christian's faith
1) but when a Christian finds himself in the company of fellow believers the faith-snuffing pressure is absent
c. choose to spend more time with fellow Christ-followers than not
3. A Community of Faith Gives Us Opportunities to Learn How to Serve
ILLUS. Think of the influences John Mark must has witnessed in his formative years as a Christian. Peter, and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Stephen ... the list goes on and on of believers who exemplified a life of service. No wonder that John Mark eventually finds himself on the mission field with Uncle Barnabas!
4. Being Part of a Community of Believers Helps to Keep Our Eyes on Jesus Christ Alone
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV84)
a. simply put, we are told to gather together to remind and encourage one another of our Lord’s imminent return, and to stir one another in love, so that we will not lose sight of what Christ has done
b. a maturing Christian can't afford to stay away from people who love Christ Jesus
Mark Was a Young Man Who Came to Christ by the Influence of Faithful Christians

II. MARK: A CHRISTIAN WHO FAILED, BUT GOT A SECOND CHANCE

1. in Acts 13, we find John Mark in the company of his cousin Barnabas and Paul
a. it’s perhaps six months to a year since Peter’s miraculous release from prison, and John Mark and Barnabas are in the church at Antioch
b. during a time of fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit impresses upon the congregation to commission Barnabas and Paul as missionaries and they embark on their first missionary journey
2. in Acts 13:5 we’re told that they take John Mark along as a helper
“When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.” (Acts 13:5, NIV84)
a. the first several weeks or months go well, but when they make the decision to go to Asia Minor — modern day Turkey — something unexpected happens
1) when they come to Perga in Pamphilia, John Mark leaves them and returned to Jerusalem
“From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.” (Acts 13:13, NIV84)
3. just why John Mark leaves the group is not explained, but it becomes clear later in the Book of Acts that Paul considers John Mark a deserter, and one whose heart inexcusably quailed because of the work which confronted him
a. those of you who have been involved in mission work or have gone on mission trips know that even short-term mission work is hard work, and sometimes dangerous work
ILLUS. Five summers ago this year we took a group of eight teenagers from this church to Aurora, Colorado on a mission trip. Our assignment was to lead a VBS-type work in a park on the north side of the city. On Sunday afternoon and each week-day evening we sent kids out into the neighborhoods around the park to hand out flyers and invite kids to the park for VBS. It was a great experience. On the last day of the event, a local pastor visited and asked me how things were going, and how the kids were doing. We chit-chatted for a few minutes, and then he asked, “How’s it feel to be working in what’s considered the most dangerous neighborhood in the Denver area?” If I would have been wearing dentures, I would have spit ‘em right out! That little detail had been left out of our ministry briefing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss — or at least keeps you from having a heart attack!
1) the point is ... mission work can be fraught with dangers and difficulties and frustrations
2) why John Mark leaves the mission field we simply don’t know
b. when Barnabas insists on giving John Mark a second chance on a second journey, the Apostle Paul absolutely refuses to allow John Mark to join the group
“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers 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 brothers to the grace of the Lord.” (Acts 15:36–40, NIV84)
4. for the next ten to fifteen years, the Bible is silent as to John Mark — we simply do not know where he was or what he was doing
a. we can assume he completed the second missionary trip with his cousin Barnabas
b. we know he spends time with Peter
c. whatever he is doing, he proves his worth as a valuable aid and companion to the work of the Lord
5. in about A.D. 61 the Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome and he writes the epistles known as Colossians and Philemon
a. at that time one of his companions is none other than ... John Mark
“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)” (Colossians 4:10, NIV84)
b. he has fully re-established himself in Paul’s confidence
1) he is a comfort to Paul, a valuable, highly esteemed, and warmly loved co-worker

A. WHAT’S THE LESSON? Reconciliation Heals Wounds, Restores Relationships, and Furthers Gospel Outreach

1. this complicated story of John Mark, and Barnabas, and Paul reveals the messiness of their relationships
a. even though they were dedicated followers of Jesus Christ, they had falling outs
1) they even may have stopped speaking to one another
b. there is something about the saints in the New Testament having beefs with each other that feels incredibly human to me
2. but they also bear witness to the possibility for reunion and reconciliation
a. did John Mark and Paul ever reconcile?
1) they did, and John Mark, at a later point, becomes a functioning member of the inner circle of Paul's companions, indicating a reconciliation has taken place
2) the reconciliation was apparently long-lasting, because he mentions John Mark again in 2 Timothy, written shortly before his death in A.D. 67, where he says:
“Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11, ESV)
3) did you catch that? ... bring Mark with you because he is ‘very useful’ to me for ministry
4) his is also briefly mentioned in Philemon, where Paul describes him as a fellow-worker
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.” (Philemon 23–24, ESV)
ILLUS. Reconciliation is more than merely a “truce” between Christians. It’s more than “We will just need to agree to disagree.” It’s a setting aside of differences, and grievances, and grudges and coming together in the love of Christ because there is something bigger at stake ... the unity of the church and the spread of the Gospel.
3. the work of the Gospel, in the long-term, is more important than our failures or our disagreements
a. when Barnabas takes his nephew John Mark on a second missionary journey, he puts the meaning of his name into action
b. remember what Barnabas’ name mean? ... yeah, Son of Encouragement
1) that Barnabas trusts John Mark, had to instill some real confidence in the young man
c. that John Mark later becomes a trusted partner in ministry with Paul speaks volumes of John Mark’s redemption for the cause of the gospel
d. that Paul would choose John Mark as a trusted partner in the gospel speaks volumes of the power of reconciliation between Christian
1) it may not have happened over-night, but it did happen
Mark Was a Christian Who Failed, but Got a Second Chance

III. MARK: A FAITHFUL EXPOSITOR OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST

1. nowhere in what we call the Gospel of Mark, does the author identify himself
a. that’s not unusual — none of the authors of the four gospels identify themselves
2. but very reliable tradition and testimony from some of the early church fathers attest that John Mark was indeed the author
a. Papias, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, testifies that the Apostle told him that Mark was the author of the Gospel that bears his name and that it reflects the preaching and teaching of the Apostle Peter
1) in a modern court, we’d call that hearsay, but I think that it’s pretty good hearsay!
3. John Mark is the shortest of the four gospels and is a rapid succession of vivid pictures of our Lord at work
a. the primary theme of the book is, Jesus came ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1:14)
b. he probably wrote his Gospel in Rome, and for Roman readers
4. he begins the book simply:"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1, NASB95)
a. that’s what it’s all about folks
1) it’s not about us
2) it’s not about our church or our programs or our ministries
3) it’s about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

A. WHAT’S THE LESSON? We Need to Share the Gospel in a Hostile World That Is Increasingly Opposed to It

1. this is God’s only plan
ILLUS. After his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus was surrounded by the Holy Angels who all began to enquire about his work on earth. Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, death and resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of his Elect. The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?” Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. “You mean Peter, who denied you thrice and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?” Jesus said, “I have no other plan.”
2. John Mark tells us the incredible story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
a. his story is our story
b. we need to be faithful expositors of the Word
ILLUS. The style of Mark is brief and blunt, pertinent and pithy, short and sweet. Mark is stripped of excess verbiage and goes right to the point. For ten weeks now you’ve heard testimonies of how various members of our congregation came to faith in Jesus Christ. Their testimonies have been brief and blunt, pertinent and pithy, short and sweet. There testimonies are a testimony to the fact that every Christian has a testimony and that you can tell the gospel as well as any of the four evangelists.
And that’s the story of Mark. May we learn the lessons of his life.
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