PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXI
Mark was a true partner of the Holy Spirit! Mark shared his knowledge of Jesus with the writers of Matthew, John, Luke, and even with Paul. The idea that Mark was Peter’s scribe has some credence because they were friends while they were in Rome, and before that in Jerusalem (I Peter 5:13). The brevity of Mark could hardly be of Peter, who spent the longest and most intimate time with Jesus. There is much more intimate time with Jesus of Peter in the other Gospels than there is in Mark. The more crucial problem was that Peter had no access to the High priest, or the residence of Pilate, or even the Upper Room. Who was that man who led the two disciples to the Upper Room where Jesus had the Passover meal with his disciples (Mark 14:12-16)? Peter was followed and led by a young man into the courtyard of the High Priest, and to the empty grave. And it also was the young man, who met the woman in the empty grave Mark 15:5), and who was the first to believe that Jesus was alive (Mark 14:51; John 18:16; John 20:1-9). Because of his high ranking in his society, he had to remain nameless. John Zebedee never was nameless, and John did not have the means to care for Jesus’ mother and family in Jerusalem, nor did he have the education that John Mark had. John Mark appeared to have been more suitable to inspire the Gospel of John, than John Zebedee himself. Who really was the most efficient beloved disciple, when in reality scribes were employed? Then, why did Jesus’ brother James and all the early leaders feel at home with Mary and her son Mark (Acts 12:12-17)? We are not told nor are we given a reason when Jesus became friends with this wealthy family that played a vital role during Jesus last days and in the spreading of the Gospel after Pentecost.
JESUS’ LAST WEEK ON EARTH: ACCORDING TO MARK
Once Jesus had entered Judea, it took the Sadducees and Pharisees only one week to dispose of him. One third of Mark’s Gospel was dedicated to Jesus’ last week alive (Mark 10-15). The time John Mark could spent with Jesus was about three weeks. And most of the time was one last and solid week at the end of Jesus’ earthly life in Judea and in and near Jerusalem. A week, and that would have been the most time, it would have taken for the Jewish leaders to remove a person, who claimed to be the Son of God. When World War II began on September 1st, 1939, it took the Polish authority only one day to incarcerate our people. But, our mother and her three lads were spared the first night because our father, who was a Polish soldier, facing Germans at the time. The police came back the following night, but our mother and her boys went into hiding until the war with Germany and Russia was over.
During this time and before, the name of John Mark was yet to become public. The person in question was a young man, a public figure, of whom Jesus loved; and he was spoken of as the “other disciple” for safety reasons. Mark 10:17-22 describes such a person who was rich and walked away from Jesus. Nevertheless, that young man may have had a change of heart with the help of his mother Mary. As an unidentified witness, he could move in circles the disciples of Jesus could not. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and after the first violent persecution, the name John Mark is identified as the son of the wealthy Mary in Jerusalem. This young man ended up with Paul and Barnabas in Antioch, and then he was found on their first missionary journey as an assistant (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5). Suddenly, without an explanation, John Mark decided to leave Paul and Barnabas and return to Jerusalem. John’s departure did not please Paul. And on Paul’s second missionary trip, he refused to partner with Mark or Barnabas; and therefore, Paul chose Silas.
And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaim the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with the one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with the to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches (Acts 15:36-41).
WHY AND WHAT CHANGED MARK’S INTEREST?
There was one thing Paul did that must have troubled John Mark and that was Paul’s use of the Holy Spirit to blind the magician Elymas (Acts 13:11). Mark had seen earlier how Peter used the Holy Spirit to scare to death Ananias and Saphira (Acts 15:1-11). The Jesus, Mark had met, had come to heal and save life and not to hurt or take life. At this time, Mark may also have met Luke, who eagerly sought information about Jesus’ Life and Jesus’ Works. Luke found Mark invaluable! And therefore, Luke began to use Mark’s outline for his story of Jesus. Mark renewed his friendship with Peter and began writing his account of Jesus. And then Mark went to Rome with Peter, where he was reconciled with Paul (II Timothy 4:11). And at he hands of Nero, Mark died, along with Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke and many others. All these men disappeared at the same time and the all died before Jerusalem was destroyed. Hence, Mark could not finish his gospel. Luke had completed his story of Jesus and nearly completed Acts. None of the New Testament writers were around to report the fall of Judea and Jerusalem.
At this time in their lives, the Jewish Apostles kept on believing, while Judea and Jerusalem were in Roman hands, that Jesus was on His way back to restore Israel to a Davidic glory (Acts 1:6). Paul, too, believed that Jesus would come back to save and restore Israel (Romans 11:25-36). The idea that Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this world was not on the minds of Jesus’ Jewish followers. The first to write about Jesus’ Kingdom, that could be present among the people, or even more specifically, in (ento) the spirit of a person, was Luke (Luke 17:21). It was long after Pentecost, that Luke learned from someone that Jesus had mentioned a Kingdom that could be present in the people; yet, not in a nation. Only, the disciples that may have met Luke and remembered, were not to whom Jesus had told that His Kingdom was not of this world. The man to whom Jesus confessed His secret was Pilate and there were no Jews present. Who, but a young man like Markus (John Mark), could have lingered in the shadow, as he did in Gethsemane, and listen in on what conspired. Considerable time would elapse before the writer of John’s Gospel would understand what Jesus meant that the disciples were in the world, but no longer of the world. Jesus prayed for his disciples to be kept in the world from harm.
Pilate entered the praetorium (Roman judgment seat), again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of our own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kongship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38).
“I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou has given to me, for they are thine; all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guared them, and none of them is list but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that hey may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldest take them out of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:9-19).
THE KINGDOM IS SPITITUAL AND NOT MATERIAL
Judaism was founded on materialism and on a law to retain land and wealth. Riches and prosperity were signs of Yahweh’s blessing. The young man, who came to Jesus in search of eternal life, knew that riches and even the law were not enough to qualify. The love for wealth kept the young man out of the Kingdom (Mark 10:17-22). Jesus shocked his disciples with His Statement on riches being in the way of His Kingdom.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed (ethambouvto – shocked) at his words. But Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle tha for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “with men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:23-31).