Pastor John arrived first at Briar Haven Bar BQ. He filled his lungs with the sweet aroma of the smoked Bar BQ. “I love that smell, he said to himself,” as he followed the waiter to his table. Picking up the menu, he glanced at the options: ribs, pulled pork, hot links, and beef brisket. “Mmmmm, I can’t wait.”
Hugh arrived and slid into his seat across from Pastor John. “Hello, Pastor John. What looks good today?”
“I’m liking the 3-meat plate myself: pulled pork, sliced brisket, and hot links. And a big glass of iced tea,” said Pastor John as the waiter arrived at the table to take their orders.
“That sounds good to me as well,” replied Hugh.
The waiter wrote their orders on his pad and went to place it in the kitchen.
“Hugh, I hope we can complete all that the New Testament tells us about John Mark, today. We have covered a lot of information already. Remember we discussed that we have two major sources of information that tells about John Mark: The New Testament and Legendary materials,” explained Pastor John.
“I do. We discussed how Mark was his Hebrew name and John was his Greek name. I liked how his mother’s home served as the main hub for the early church in Jerusalem. Of course, wasn’t it interesting to discover the close a relationship that Mark and Peter had?” piped in Hugh.
“Exactly, Hugh,” said Pastor John. “And remember last week how we discovered Mark was a helper, a huperetes, for Paul and Barnabas?” “What did you pick up about John Mark this week?”
“Oh, Pastor. I have been so excited to cover this material since we ended our discussion last week. Mark left on the 1st missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but for some reason Mark’s life took a serious turn. Mark crossed Cyprus with the two missionaries. And, you know, Barnabas originated from Cyprus. The trio boarded a ship to cross over to Perga of Pamphylia.”
“Yes, and it was at Perga that Paul began his suffering with what some think was his thorn in the flesh, which may have been malarial fever. The region of Pamphylia was known for this disease. They elected to pass through this lowland and took a steep mountain pass which took them to the central table land at Pisidian Antioch. It was at Perga that John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas,” explained Pastor John.
“Pastor, I read of several reasons why John Mark may have left them at Perga. Some scholars posit that John Mark knew robbers and bandits hid along this narrow road. They think he feared for his safety. Others explain that John Mark’s sense of loyalty to Judaism colored his decision since he was not confident about the mission to the Gentiles and whether it would please God.”
“And Pastor John, one of the most interesting theories is that John Mark left the group because his cousin, Barnabas, had been demoted while Paul was promoted as the leader of the group. Barnabas served as the leader when the entourage left Antioch. The reason for this position is that Barnabas was always named first (Acts 13:2, 7).
After they arrived in Perga, Paul’s name appeared first among the two men. So, Mark may have been offended when Paul took over the leadership. I found Matthew Henry’s reasoning interesting. Henry says that Mark, ‘either did not like the work, or wanted to go home to see his mother.’” “We don’t know why Mark went home, but he did.” Hugh quipped.
“Hugh, you know, like many of us, when we are hurt or disappointed by others who we have much respect or have put our faith in, Paul felt hurt. Paul struggled to forgive John Mark and it took some time. The first missionary journey came to a completion. When it was time to consider the second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas split over John Mark. Barnabas sought to give Mark a second opportunity. Paul refused. The two missionaries and friends went their own ways in the service of God. Barnabas took Mark and shipped out to Cyprus. Paul selected Silas and went back inland in Asia Minor (Acts 15: 38-42). The Bible doesn’t tell us if Barnabas and Paul ever worked together or not,” said Pastor John.
“I think Paul learned to give Mark a second opportunity too. Mark managed to demonstrate he was capable of being a valuable partner in the work of Christ. It seems we ought to offer people second chances when it comes to the service of Christ,” Hugh said. “I pray my Sunday School class will give me a second chance.”
“That is correct, Pastor John. But you know Mark isn’t heard of for several years. But in the meantime, something has happened to Paul and John Mark. 2 Timothy 4:11 records that Paul sent for John Mark to come to him in prison. Paul said that he had found Mark to be profitable to him as a servant or minister. The Greek word used here is, diakonia, which refers to someone who is a useful assistant or personal helper,” (click to tweet) explained Hugh as he took a deep breath.
Pastor John replied, “Hugh, I am hearing good things coming from your class and the Sunday School director said your class numbers are back up. I think the Lord has given you a second chance and the class has too.”
“Thank you for those encouraging words. Those touch me deep,” said Hugh with a small tear in his eye.
“Hugh,” said Pastor John, ‘it is hard to imagine this, but our time has flown by this noon hour. I have an appointment shortly and will need to leave. Next week let’s focus on some of the legendary materials that give us other information about the author of our Gospel called Mark. Will that be acceptable to you?”
“Pastor John, I have been studying ahead already. I encountered some interesting stories about John Mark. One story claims that John Mark had a history of starting something and then quitting. I can’t wait until we talk about that story,” chimed in Hugh.
“Thanks again, Pastor for your time and help,” said Hugh as he gave Pastor John a hug.
“Your welcome, Hugh. Our time is something I no look forward to as well,” whispered Pastor John with water gathering in the corner of his eye.
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