Hugh Mortimor arrived early at “Della’s Diner” for his meeting with Pastor John. Hugh had spent several hours reading and researching information about Mark, the author of Mark’s Gospel. Hugh glanced over his notes, excited to share with Pastor John what he had discovered.
The waitress asked, “Would you like something to drink while you wait?”
“Yes, I would like a cup of coffee and a glass of ice water, please.” Hugh replied.
“Coming up!” said the waitress.
About that time, Pastor John slid into his seat. The waitress caught him and asked him his drink order. “Milk and water, please,” Pastor John answered.
“Good morning, Hugh!” Pastor John said as he extended his right hand to Hugh. Shaking hands, the two men smiled at each other.
“Hugh, you look more like I remember you being. You have a smile on your face. You appear to have eaten the proverbial canary. How are things going?”
Pastor John, “Meeting with you is exactly what I needed to get me out of the doldrums.”
“Great news! I am pleased and thankful to our Lord. How were you studies this week?” inquired Pastor John.
“Pastor John, you know I have been excited about this meeting since our last meeting. I regret that we had to miss a couple of weeks, but life got out of control.” Hugh said.
“I can understand that. I have been busy too.” Pastor John replied.
“So, Pastor John, do you care if I go first and share with you what I learned about Mark, who many believe authored the Gospel of Mark?” queried Hugh.
“Go ahead. I am excited to hear what you discovered,” answered Pastor John.
Glancing at his notes, Hugh began, “I learned that we have two major sources for the life of John Mark. We have the New Testament, of course. And we have what appears to be a large amount of traditional and legendary material. Pastor John, I read some of the legendary materials and it was useless as genuine history, but other resources could be helpful.”
“You are right, Hugh. So, for our discussion right now, let’s focus on the New Testament materials, if that is acceptable to you,” Pastor John replied.
“It is fine with me,” replied Hugh.
“Pastor John, I was amazed that Mark was called by another name from time to time. Did you know he is also called, ‘John Mark’?”
“Hugh, yes, I am aware. You probably read that in Israel during the first century A.D. it was common for men to have two names. The first name which his friends used would be his Hebrew name. The second name would be Greek and was used by business associates in his public life. We have Simon, known as Peter and Thomas, called Didymus. So, John is his Hebrew name and Mark is his Greek name,” explained Pastor John.
“Isn’t that great to know, Pastor John? I read that in Israel in the time of John Mark that the people did not have surnames. But often, the way to distinguish one man from another was to call him the son of his father. For example, ‘Simon, bar Jonah.’ I read that the Hebrew word for son is ‘bar.’ And you know, Pastor John, we have no idea what John Mark’s father’s name was, but we know his mother’s name is Mary. Acts 12:12 says that Mary was the mother of John Mark. Some think that normally, Mary would be known as Mary, the wife of her husband, that her husband and John Mark’s father had probably deceased,” explained Hugh.
“Well done, Hugh! What else did you discover about John Mark that will give us valuable information about his life and background?” asked Pastor John.
“I discovered that John Mark’s mother owned a home with a courtyard. This courtyard had an outer door. She even had a maidservant to open the door (Acts 12:13). To top that off, Pastor John, her house seemed to serve as the central meeting place for the church in Jerusalem.”
“Peter returned to Mary’s house after he escaped the prison in Jerusalem with the help of the angel (Acts 12:12). And I imagine that she had a large room since the church was gathered there for prayer (Acts 12:12). Pastor John, Mark grew up with the church right in his very house. “
“I can only imagine the things that John Mark witnessed with his eyes and heard with his ears. Who else would be so knowledgeable to write what may have been the first and earliest Gospel?” said Hugh. (Click to Tweet)
“Hugh, do you think there is a close connection between Peter and Mark?” asked Pastor John.
“I do! As we just heard, Peter went to John Mark’s house when he escaped prison. I checked out 1 Peter 5:13 and Peter calls John Mark, my son.” I don’t think that is to be taken literally. This phrase, “my son,” can refer to a close relationship an older man has with a younger man so that the older man felt the relationship was a close as a father and son. If Mark’s father was dead, this could have even more meaning. Yet, more likely it refers to the idea that Peter brought Mark into the Christian faith. So, like Paul refers to Timothy as “his son” and Titus as ‘his son,” (1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4), then this may be the intended meaning.”
Hugh sat amazed at the information he had gained about the author of the Gospel of Mark. He was already feeling better about how he viewed scripture and especially the Gospel of Mark. He anticipated sharing this information with his Sunday School class in a few weeks.
“Pastor John. Thank you for giving me this time to meet with you. You have already blessed my life and I am excited about studying God’s Word once again. Can we meet again next week?”
“Sure, Hugh. Let’s keep exploring Mark and his life next week. Check out Acts 13 1-5 especially.”
If you found this style of teaching helpful, leave me a comment. Blessings towards each who reads the blog this week. What things do you know about John Mark’s life that we have not covered yet?