MARK wrote one of the four Bible books about the life of Jesus. It is the shortest and easiest one to read. Who was Mark? Do you think he knew Jesus?—* Let’s see what hard tests Mark faced and learn why Mark never gave up being a Christian.
Mark is first mentioned by name in the Bible after King Herod Agrippa threw the apostle Peter in prison. One night an angel freed Peter, and he immediately went to the home of Mark’s mother, Mary, who lived in Jerusalem. Peter’s release from prison occurred about ten years after Jesus was killed at Passover 33 C.E.—Acts 12:1-5, 11-17.
Do you know why Peter went to Mary’s home?— Probably because he knew members of her family and was aware that Jesus’ disciples held meetings in her home. Mark’s cousin Barnabas had long been a disciple, at least since the Festival of Pentecost 33 C.E. His generosity at that time in behalf of new disciples is mentioned in the Bible. So Jesus may have known Barnabas, as well as his aunt Mary and her son Mark.—Acts 4:36, 37; Colossians 4:10.
In his Gospel, Mark wrote that on the night Jesus was arrested, a youth wearing only a garment “over his naked body” was present. When enemies grabbed Jesus, Mark wrote that the youth escaped. Who do you think that youth could have been?— Yes, it was probably Mark! So when Jesus and his apostles left late that night, Mark apparently threw on a garment and followed.—Mark 14:51, 52.
Mark indeed had a rich spiritual background. He was likely present when holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost 33 C.E., and he had close association with faithful servants of God, such as Peter. But he also accompanied his cousin Barnabas, who helped Saul by introducing him to Peter some three years after Jesus had appeared to Saul in a vision. Years later, Barnabas went to Tarsus in order to find Saul there.—Acts 9:1-15, 27; 11:22-26; 12:25; Galatians 1:18, 19.
In 47 C.E., Barnabas and Saul were selected to do missionary work. They took Mark along, but for some unexplained reason, Mark later left them and returned home to Jerusalem. Saul, who came to be known by his Roman name Paul, was angry. And he did not ignore what he considered a serious failure on Mark’s part.—Acts 13:1-3, 9, 13.
When returning from their missionary tour, Paul and Barnabas reported wonderful successes. (Acts 14:24-28) Months later, the two planned to return and visit new converts where they had preached. Barnabas wanted to take Mark along, but do you know what Paul thought?— He “did not think it proper” because Mark had earlier left them to go home. What happened next surely made Mark sad!
Tempers flared, and after “a sharp burst of anger,” Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas took Mark along to preach in Cyprus, and Paul selected Silas and revisited the new disciples, as previously planned. How hurt Mark must have been for causing the trouble between Paul and Barnabas!—Acts 15:36-41.
We don’t know why Mark earlier left to go home. He likely had what he felt was a good reason. In any case, Barnabas was evidently convinced that it would not happen again. And he was right. Mark did not give up! Later he did missionary work with Peter in far-off Babylon. From there, Peter sent greetings, adding: “And so does Mark my son.”—1 Peter 5:13.
What a close spiritual relationship Peter and Mark had! This is also evident when we read Mark’s Gospel. Therein Mark reflects Peter’s perceptive firsthand observations. As an example, compare the accounts of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Mark adds details about where Jesus was sleeping in the boat and what he was sleeping on, things that a fisherman like Peter would notice. Why don’t we see this for ourselves by reading together and comparing these Bible accounts at Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:37, 38; and Luke 8:23?
Later, when Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he commended Mark for his loyal support. (Colossians 4:10, 11) And when Paul was imprisoned there again, he wrote to Timothy and asked him to bring Mark, explaining: “He is useful to me for ministering.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Indeed, what grand privileges of service Mark enjoyed because he did not give up!
If you are reading with a child, the dash provides a reminder to pause and encourage the child to express himself.