Who is Hugh Mortimor!
Sleep escaped Hugh Mortimer this Sunday evening. Hugh’s mind raced out of control. What was wrong with him? He mulled over the drastic drop in attendance of his Sunday School class over the last several weeks. That bothered him. His normal excitement to study the lesson has faded. Bible study was now work. “What is wrong with me?” he asked.
Even a comfortable sleep position evaded Hugh this evening. Hugh tossed from his right side to his left side. No position felt comfortable. Andrea, His wife of nineteen years, plead with Hugh to stop his tossing. “I feel like I am on Angela’s trampoline, bouncing up and down with each roll you make!” Hugh promised to stop. It proved to be an empty promise. Hugh thought to himself, “Be still! Go to sleep! You know you need your rest. You know you can’t change anything tonight. Maybe I can count pink elephants and that will help?”
Rest eluded Hugh. Hugh rehearsed how his class exploded when he replaced the former teacher who many said droned on and on each week without any content. But now, Hugh found himself droning when he taught. He felt like the teacher on Charlie Brown’s cartoon. “Blah, Blah, Blah.” Finally, exhausted, Hugh fell asleep.
Awakening earlier than usual Monday, Hugh told himself that he was going to start preparing his lesson earlier this week. He pulled out the new quarterly and found the place for this week’s lesson. His excitement grew when he saw this quarter’s lessons would be out of Mark’s Gospel. Hugh’s hopes faded as quick as they had risen because he realized he knew nothing about Mark or his gospel. What would he do now? Was there any help for him out of this fog? Hugh glanced at the clock which told him, “Time to go to work.”
Even at work, Hugh could not rescue himself from this sinking feeling. “I always enjoyed studying and sharing the Word. I need help. I need help from God. God, help me so I can be useful in your kingdom work.” Click to Tweet
At lunch, Hugh stopped at the local burger hut. As he entered, he spotted the retired pastor, Pastor John, from his church. Pastor John motioned for Hugh to sit at the table with him. Hugh knew the retired pastor well and decided the other tables looked occupied. He gathered his burger, fries and iced tea and sat across the table from the pastor.
After exchanging hello’s and how are you, pastor John asked, “Hugh, can I ask you a personal question?” Hugh said “sure,” somewhat afraid of what might be asked. “Mary and I sat across the aisle from you in worship yesterday. I noticed you seem to be down. Are things well at home and at work?”
Hugh quickly affirmed, “Sure, things are great at home with Andrea and Angela. And before you ask about work, it is going well. Sales are up this month.”
Pastor John said, “Good. Good.” “What seems to be your trouble, Hugh, if you don’t mind me asking? You weren’t your normal warm self in the Sunday School greeting time. You didn’t shake hands with the enthusiasm you normally have and I couldn’t help but notice, you didn’t seem to enjoy worship or the pastor’s sermon.”
Hugh remembered his prayer earlier in the day for help and decided to share his problem. He thought, “What do I have to lose?”
“Pastor, I have lost the joy of studying God’s Word and teaching the Word. I think it is obvious to my class too. Several have stopped attending. I am worried it is my fault. I am in a spiritual rut, pastor. Pastor, do you ever find yourself in such a place?”
“Hugh, there was a time in my ministry when I questioned my effectiveness in the pulpit and in ministry at the church. I was broken. I couldn’t sleep for worry and fear of failing God, my church, and my family.”
“Pastor, you described my spiritual life to the T. What did you do, pastor?”
“Hugh, I followed the advice of Jesus which He gave to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3: 3, “Remember therefore how thou received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.”
“Pastor, what did that mean for you? What did you do specifically?”
“I returned to the things I had been taught in Bible College and seminary about how to study God’s Word, how to organize what I studied, and how to make application from the biblical text.”
“Hugh, would you like to meet with me each week for the next several weeks? I have been wanting to review the basic principles of how to study God’s Word, so I can organize it and make personal and public applications with it? You could help me, Hugh, if you would do that alongside me.”
“Would I?” Hugh said. “You name the time and place and I will be there! Thank you for such a gracious offer! I feel hope like I haven’t for some time.”
“Hugh, let’s start today, if you are ready?”
“Sure, Pastor. I am ready! Can we use the Gospel of Mark, since that is the material our Sunday School classes will be using this quarter?”
“Sound good to me. Hugh, the first thing we need to do is to learn about Mark, the author of the Gospel.”
“We have about 20 minutes. Do you have your cell phone?”
“Yes,” Hugh replied.
“Good. Let’s do a search on the internet.” “Type in the following question: ‘Who is the author of Mark’s Gospel?” Hugh, what website do you find helpful with this question? What are we told about the author of Mark’s Gospel?”
“I am excited to see where this leads us.”
Let me encourage each of you who read this blog to consider looking up information related to the authorship of Mark and share your resources with us: commentaries, webpages, electronic resources etc. Help me build a resource list for our study on Mark’s Gospel.
Next week – Hugh and Pastor John will explore how to unearth historical context related to Mark as the author of Mark’s Gospel. See you then.