Who is John Mark?

This is one of the things I'm hoping to skip over and not get bogged down in during tomorrow night's Large Group talk.

John Mark is a shadowy figure. No one knows for sure if there is one Mark talked about in the New Testament or two or three or five.

Here's where the name shows up:

Acts 12:12 - people were gathered at John, also called Mark's house to pray for Peter's safe release from prison (it was actually Mary, John Mark's mother's house, but mom's house is always your house, right?)

Acts 12:25 - Barnabas and Saul take John, also called Mark, with them when they leave Jerusalem

Acts 13:5 - John serves as a helper for Barnabas and Saul in Cyprus at Salamis

Acts 13:13 - John leaves Paul and his companions as they head to Perga in Pamphylia (no one knows exactly why...was it exhaustion? fear? racism? disbelief?)

Acts 15:36-41 - Barnabas and Paul have a huge falling out over whether or not to take John, also called Mark, with them on their next missionary journey. Barnabas takes John with him to Cyprus and Paul strikes out with Silas.

Colossians 4:10 - Paul shares greetings from Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, and asks the church to welcome him if he comes by

Philemon 24 - Mark is listed as one of Paul's fellow-workers

2 Timothy 4:11 - Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark to him while he's imprisoned in Rome, since "he is helpful to me in my ministry"

1 Peter 5:13 - Peter's "son" Mark sends greetings in the closing of the book

If that wasn't enough, the Second Gospel is attributed to a dude named Mark, who was, according to the tradition laid down by Papias, Peter's scribe in Rome.

Following that tradition, some have suggested that Mark inserted an autobiographical reference into his gospel (Mk. 14:51-52, which provides the New Testament basis for streaking).

So, with all of this, I still think that all these Marks are the same Mark, John Mark, cousin of Barnabas, son of Mary (not that Mary), one-time failed missionary, scribe to Peter, author of my favorite Gospel and all around bad dude.

But if there are multiple Marks and the Mark Barnabas fought for never proved helpful to Paul or son/scribe to Peter, hmmm...it might detract from my point for tomorrow (Invest your life in other people), but not by much. I think Barnabas probably did the right thing to give Mark a second chance, even if he never turned out to be anything special in the history of the movement. People matter. They matter to us because they matter to God.

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