Christ guided some of his close companions to put on record his sayings, and his works; as well as the events of his life, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension. Some of those were Matthew, the eyewitness and linguist; John, the beloved disciple of priestly root; Luke, the Greek physician who accompanied Paul the apostle; and Mark, the young man who recorded the sermons of Peter, the most forward among the apostles.
Who is Mark? We agree to the church’s unanimity in supposing that the writer of the second gospel was John Mark, who accompanied Barnabas his uncle, and Paul the apostle, on their first missionary journey (as stated in Acts 12:12-25; 13:5-13; 15:37-39). However, he could not take the trouble of the physical hardships and spiritual striving during that journey, because of his young age at that time, so he gave up the journey, left the two apostles, and returned to his homeland from the beginning of the journey. This departure did not please Paul the apostle.However, with his clear sight and prudence, Barnabas saw in Mark, his cousin, the man of the future. He tried to make things easy to Paul that he might take Mark again with him on his second journey, but Paul was not willing to take an evasive feeble young man with him, which led to the rupture between the two leaders of missionary. But few years later, we find Mark once again at Rome with Paul as his fellow-worker and great “comfort” to him during Paul’s imprisonment (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11).It is conceded that Mark was the young man, who had followed Jesus from afar, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body; and when the soldiers laid hold of Jesus, he fled naked, as the soldiers took off his linen cloth (Mark 14:51). Mark testified to this truth in his gospel that he became naked at Christ’s crucifixion, and unworthy of writing the gospel. Nevertheless, Christ had mercy on him and entrusted him with writing his divine biography.
How Was the Gospel According to Mark Composed? Eusebius, the ecclesiastic historian says that Mark joined Peter the apostle, after the death of Paul, and accompanied him as his faithful servant. Mark wrote down accurately the words and sermons of this old apostle about the life of Christ. He did not record them in their historical order, but attached himself to Peter who used to frame his teaching to meet the needs of his hearers, not as composing an orderly account of the Lord’s discourses, but as portraying the life of Christ in such a way that he might be seen clearly as if he were before them. In fact, the source of the reports, as stated in this gospel, was not Mark, but Peter, the most forward among the apostles.The Gospel of Mark portrays the person of Jesus more by what he does than by what he says. Mark clearly records the deeds of Jesus rather than his words, which we may read in detail in the other gospels. However, the works of Christ appear before our minds short and powerful. The account of Peter’s denial of Christ is full. Peter’s bitter failure is particularly more highlighted in the Gospel of Mark than in the other gospels, so that to glorify the saving grace of Christ who had blessed him in spite of his thrice denial.
For Whom Was This Gospel Written? Mark learned from following Barnabas, Paul, and Peter that Jesus of Nazareth was the triumphant, powerful, and mighty Christ. He portrayed him to the Romans as the only Son of God, for the Romans and the Greeks did not find, in their several gods, set up in their many temples, a true hope for life and death. Therefore, he made apparent to them the only Son of God, the hope of the worlds.Accordingly, he clarified to those Gentiles some of the Jewish customs that they might understand the background of Jesus. He was not concerned with describing the controversies between Jesus and the Pharisees, but translated Aramaic and Hebrew phrases, and transliterated familiar Latin expressions into Greek use. This shows that the Gospel of Mark was not written for Hebrews, but for Gentiles, and for Romans in particular, to draw them to the living faith in Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the divine founder of the spiritual kingdom in our corrupt world.
When Was the Gospel of Mark Written? St. Irenaeus wrote that Peter read this gospel, and approved its contents before his death. This indicates that this gospel was written earlier than 64 AD since the great persecution of Nero had taken place during this year, which resulted in the death of Peter.We learn, from this shortest gospel, that the power of God was at work in the Lord Jesus Christ. We recognize, from reflecting on his life, that he, who was raised from the dead, is present with us even today, establishing the kingdom of his love among the nations. As such, the Son of God calls us with his brief commands to obey the faith, for in his expanses there is neither disorder nor sin, but the power of the Holy Spirit at work, according to the arrangements of his mercy based on his everlasting triumph.Please do not read the Gospel of Mark hastily or superficially, but penetrate deeply into every word of it, and carry it up faithfully that you may be strengthened in your spiritual life.