SIMON PETER IN MARK
Peter sent greetings from Babylon (Rome) with his son Mark (I Pe. 5:13). John Mark, the author of the Second Gospel that became the basis for two larger versions of Matthew and Luke, was Peter’s spiritually adopted son. He was the John Mark that left Paul and Barnabas after the blinding of Elymas (Ac. 13:13). Many scholars believe that Peter inspired Mark to write an account of Jesus. Peter and the first Christians did not have the New Testament. They depended on the Old Testament and took permissible liberties to apply the Spirit of God to their work (Mk. 1:2). What Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira (Ac. 5:1-10) and what Paul did to Elymas (Ac. 13:6-14) was not the way Jesus treated His enemies (Lk. 23:34). The young man that was present when Jesus was betrayed, arrested and was present at the resurrection of his Lord may have been John Mark (Mk. 14:51, 16:5-7). “As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.” He said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” The reference to Peter gave credence to Mark’s testimony on Jesus. It was the first eyewitness report regarding the highlight of the Son of Man’ s mission on earth. And it credited Peter as the only one that identified Jesus as the Christ (Mk. 8:29). At this time, there was a struggle for leadership in the Church. In Jerusalem, Peter was already in second place behind James and before John Zebedee. In the Gentile world, Paul was emerging as the leader (Gal. 2:9). Mark, at this time, did not endorse Paul (Ac. 15:36-41). Paul did recognize Mark’s contribution and requested that Timothy bring him to Rome (II Tim. 4:11). We have no documentation whether the two men met before Paul died. What we do know is that John Zebedee provided Jesus’ last wish as to who should shepherd Jesus’ flock. There was absolutely no doubt that Peter was the intended leader of Jesus’ followers (Jn. 21:15-22). Mark did not mind to become Peter’s penman and shadow.
Mark, Peters adopted son, was only interested in Jesus’ work and not in His first thirty years. Peter, of course, was with Jesus from the beginning. He became enamored with Jesus’ announcement that the time had come to usher in the kingdom of God and to join up people had to repent (Mk. 1:15). The writer tells the story of Jesus’ appearance as if he were present in the form of an angel. In my own research, I have come to believe that the young man, at the end of Jesus’ earthly life was present when John the Baptist baptized Jesus and the voice from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” After His withdrawal into the desert, Jesus came to Capernaum and chose Peter as His first disciple. Peter was present when Jesus cast out demons and healed the sick, including his mother-in-law. Peter next learned about Jesus secret prayer life. When He disappeared early, it was Simon and companions that found Him praying in a solitary place where Jesus also revealed His mission to them. “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out evil spirits (Mk. 1:38-39). As far as Simon Peter was concerned, they were enrolling people to restore the Kingdom of Israel. Jesus’ outreach and His instructions were to go to the lost sheep of Israel and most were lost under a king that was not a Jew and religious leaders that were not Levites. The calling of a Levite was taking the Kingdom in the right direction. It must have puzzled Peter when he was asked, “Why does your teacher eat with publicans and sinners?” Peter was satisfied with Jesus’ answer, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk. 2:17). The real meaning and reason for Jesus being present in their midst would not become clear until after His resurrection. If there was anyone that may have had an inkling of what Jesus was about, it may have been the young man the women found sitting in the empty tomb.
During this time in Peter’s life, he aspired to please Jesus and tried to distinguish himself. They were competing to be first in Jesus’ restored Israel. There were questions why they did not fast or why Jesus healed on the Sabbath or why He dared to forgive sins, but they were afraid to ask. Everything else Jesus did pointed in the direction, they hoped He would take them. Jesus’ deeds and miracles were similar to those of Moses and Elijah (Mk. 9:2-13). The high point, in the disciples’ life, was when Jesus appointed twelve to be Apostles and promised them that they would be rewarded for their service in the Kingdom (Mk. 3:13-19; 10:28-30). There were rumors that the Apostles would govern the twelve tribes with Peter as the head of the Kingdom (Mt. 19:28; 16:18). Mark and Luke did not ascertain such a notion (Lk. 18:29-30). However, when Jesus began to take with him on special occasions Peter, James and John a rivalry developed among them as to who was the greatest (Mk. 9: 33-37)? The request of the Zebedee brothers to sit on Jesus’ right and left in the future Kingdom was resented by the other disciples and denied by Jesus (Mk. 10:35-45). Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the clearing of the Temple, His assertion of authority, returning the vineyard to its rightful owners and restoring the Law of Moses were received with enormous enthusiasm (Mk. 11-12). Particularly the statement what God had said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mk. 12:26-27). Thus far, Jesus had demonstrated that He was more than a son of David; for, David in Psalm 110:1 called the Messiah his Lord (Mk. 12:35-37). Peter was ready to defend and give his life for the restoration of Israel (Mk. 14:47). Jesus’ words were taken literally, “I tell you the truth some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power” (Mk. 9:1).
Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. Peter had just identified Jesus, as the Christ. Instead of talking about conquest and victory, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” To Peter, as well as to the other disciples, that must have been a stunner. Peter was determined not to let that happen to his Christ and was even more surprised that it was what Jesus wanted. On top of it, they were told that they too would have to carry their crosses and expect to loose their lives for the sake of the good news that was if they treasured their souls. Then Jesus added to their confusion that He would acknowledge them when He returns with a host of angels (Mk. 8:31-38). This sudden change in direction became more important than everything they had done before. It was predetermined, “that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected” Mk. 9:12). Twice, more He insisted that He would be betrayed, be killed and come back to life (Mk. 9:31; 10:33-34). At long last Jesus disclosed His real reason why He had come, “For the Son of Man had not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). Mark tells us that the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant and they were afraid to ask (Mk. 9:32). Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem raised their spirits a little. But, by the time they were leaving the Temple and were admiring its structure, Jesus had more bad news in telling them that they would witness the destruction of the Temple.
Mark chapter 13 was a response to Peter, James, John and Andrew to a private question regarding the destruction of the Temple. It is true that the events of chapter 13 can be fitted into many periods of the tragic events in history. Luke and Mathew have enlarged on Mark and so have all the interpreters in history. However, as far as Mark was concerned, he understood that all the things Jesus predicted would happen in his lifetime. And according to the Jewish Historian Josephus, who lived during that period, the Romans did exactly what Jesus predicted. The followers of Jesus were the main targets for the persecution and the many pretenders troubled the Romans. Titus committed the abomination of desolation when he sacrificed a pig on the altar of God. The people went through one of the worst tribulations in Jewish history because they did not heed Jesus’ warnings. The time for these souls to meet their maker at the hands of the Romans came unexpectedly. No heavenly chariot came to their rescue. A quick death was a blessing. Jesus, Himself, was not rescued, but He had to suffer the worst humiliation by dying on a cross.
Jesus, during the Passover, stayed with Simon the Leper in Bethany. A woman with costly oil anointed Jesus for burial and deprived Judas of his share in profits. Two of the disciples were sent to prepare the last meal in the large upper room. During the meal, Jesus predicted his betrayal and Peter’s denial. Then they went to Gethsemane where Jesus withdrew with Peter, James and John to pray. The three fell asleep, but a young man watched Jesus struggle and yield to the will of His Heavenly Father. Judas led an armed mob with swords and clubs to betray Jesus with a kiss and led Him bound to the Jewish leaders for trial. Peter drew a sword and Jesus repaired his damage with healing. Peter followed at a distance, ended up denying his Lord and disappeared drying his tears. He could not stomach what was being done to the Christ. After, Jesus rose from the dead, a young man instructed the ladies to tell Peter to go to Galilee where he would meet the Risen Lord. Peter obeyed and a new chapter would be added to his life. He owed it all to his spiritual son, Mark.