“On Your Mark”
The Human Author (Chapter One – Verse One
The first mention we have of the author, Mark, is in the book of Acts, he is the son of the woman Mary (Acts 12.12). It was to her house Peter went after the angel released him from prison. The last we hear of Mark is when he wrote this version of his good news in Rome, in close association with Peter again. His ministerial career always seems to have been in an assistant’s capacity. With Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11.29-30), then on the first missionary tour (Acts 13.5). When it came to the second missionary journey Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply with regards to Mark’s usefulness. Paul’s concern was due to Mark’s display of inconstancy at Pamphylia, he seemed to lack determination, courage, enthusiasm, hang-on-in-there-ness (Acts 15.36-41). It’s not unusual to see this attitude in Christian service today. How the Church needs people who are dependable, who will hang-on-in-there despite the discouragements and setbacks. It’s amazing how much work we can achieve if we’re determined to plod on in the Lord’s work. Maybe it was because of a proneness to discouragement that left Mark an assistant all his Christian life?
He appears again on the scene during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, Paul in writing his letters mentions Mark (Colossians 4.10, Philemon v24) in his greetings. There had obviously been a reconciliation between the two men by this time. Is it not a tragedy when Christians fall out, and sometimes it seems they are determined they will never speak to one another again? We need to take the Lord’s words seriously (Matthew 6.14-15), he means what he says. A working relationship was developed and maintained to the end of Paul’s life. We find Paul asking Timothy to join him, and he requests that the useful Mark should come too (2Timothy 4.11). Is it not so important for us all to hang-on-in-there with people? Perhaps with some encouragement or even a gentle shove, it would help a fellow Christian in the Church to find their place of usefulness. We wouldn’t want folk to give up on us, would we? Every member of the Church is bought and loved at infinite cost by the Lord. And each has a useful role, a place, from the least to the greatest, the public to the more private gifts, the ministry of the word to the cup of tea given in Jesus’ name (1Corinthians 12.1ff, Matthew 25.37-40).
(© James R Hamilton, written September 1996)