What do you know about Mark? Most would not have a whole lot to say about him. If you know one thing about Mark, it's probably that there's a book of the Bible with his name on it. Mark wrote the second of the four Gospels. That means he's an evangelist who wrote an account of Jesus' life and ministry in the church's earliest days. That's Mark's claim to fame.
There are some other things we learn in the Scriptures about St. Mark the Evangelist. We know his name is John Mark, and he's a cousin to Barnabas. He also traveled with Paul and Barnabas as a helper on Paul's first journey. But Mark quit after just the first stop to go back home to Jerusalem. Not exactly a moment for the highlight reel! When it comes time for their second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas fight over whether to take Mark along. Paul won't take the quitter along, so Barnabas goes on a completely different journey just so Mark can go with him. Years later, we find out they have reconciled as Mark accompanies a few of Paul's letters. Paul also specifically requests Mark come to see him before he is executed in Rome.
With a fair degree of certainty, we can say a few other things about Mark. Mark includes a detail in his Gospel about a young man who was seized in connection with Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane. This young man was forced to shake out of his clothes to get away and run away naked. Who else would know that except Mark himself? Mark is reported to have spent a lot of time with Peter, and many think Peter is the one who informs Mark as he writes his Gospel account. It is also said that Mark founded the church in Alexandria in Egypt and was martyred for his faith reportedly on April 25, which we now celebrate as the Feast of St. Mark.
Mark is the student, the courier, and the helper. What's so memorable about that?
But why should we take time to remember this guy? It's true he did some impressive things if all the historical sources are accurate. But that's not really the reason we remember him. Admittedly, writing a Gospel is a big deal, but hold that thought for a minute. Consider only the picture of Mark we see in the Scriptures. He's not someone who is famous or eloquent. He's not a bold leader. Often instead, we see his faults. He runs in fear, and naked at that! He gives up on the journey. He's the cause of a fight. When we hear about the good things he does, they're pretty small in comparison to others. Mark is the student, the courier, and the helper. What's so memorable about that?
But then again, how many of us are among the famous and influential, the bold and eloquent, whose godliness shines as a beacon for others? How often aren't we painfully aware of our own many faults? How often don't our own contributions seem so meager in so many different areas?
Here Mark is worth remembering. Jesus gave Mark the great honor and privilege of recording one of the Gospels. But Mark doesn't use his words to tell us about himself; this isn't his story. He wants nothing more than for us to see Jesus in his words and to see him as the Savior. Jesus is the Authority, the greatest Power, the Messiah, and God himself come to save sinners! Then Mark rushes forward from one account to the next in a race to the cross because, of all places, that is where this powerful Jesus won salvation for sinners.Mark heard the Word. He treasured the Word. He learned of Jesus. He pointed to Jesus and to salvation. Now whether you are remembered like Mark or not, whether Jesus allows you some great honor or not, no matter your accomplishments or your failures, what greater legacy could you claim than that of Mark? Listen to the Word. Learn from Jesus. Treasure him and his promises to you. Let that truth shape your life, and then point others to Jesus when he gives you the chance.