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Now we're turning to Mark's Gospel, and I want to use this morning as a study in introduction to this series on the Gospel of Mark, so we'll not be taking any of the verses of the first chapter this morning. First of all I want you to turn to Mark chapter 10, and then Mark 14, and then we'll look at a number of portions from the Acts of the Apostles. The title of my message this morning is: "John Mark - The Man, His Method, and His Message".

First of all let's look at John Mark, the man, and find out a little bit about his background...

Reading from chapter 10:45, just one verse - and this, if there is a key verse of the book, this is certainly it: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister", or came not to be served, but to serve, "and to give his life a ransom for many". Then chapter 14 verse 50, speaking of the disciples: "And they all forsook the Lord Jesus, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked".

Then turning to the Acts of the Apostles chapter 12, Acts chapter 12 verse 24: "But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark". Then chapter 13 and verse 13: "Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John", that is, John Mark, "departing from them returned to Jerusalem". Then chapter 15 for our final reading, verse 36: "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches".

Over 2000 years of Christian history, traditions have developed concerning the apostles. Some of those traditions appear to be quite plausible. They are plausible in the sense that they don't seem to contradict any obvious Scriptures, and generally speaking they enjoyed acceptance in the early church who were nearest to them in a chronological sense. Other traditions concerning the twelve apostles, however, are less reliable. Take some concerning John Mark, who is before us in his Gospel. Some believe that he was nicknamed 'stump finger', probably because of some disability, supposedly - that may or may not be the case, it doesn't really matter. Others believe he was the founder of Christianity in Alexandria. There are reasons for that, but we're not sure about it. Others think he suffered a martyr's death in Alexandria, and then the Roman Catholic Church indicates that his body, John Mark's body, was taken from there to Venice and buried in that famous San Marco church in Venice (which I visited on my holidays), which was supposedly built in the 10th century to house the remains of Mark the evangelist.

He is a man who had a serious spiritual blip. He also became, through that backsliding error, a cause for division between two great men of God

Now we cannot be sure of any of those things, in fact some of them are highly dubious - but what we must always maintain is that we look to the Scriptures to construct reliable pictures of the apostles, and of circumstances that are the context for biblical doctrine and teaching. So let's look at the Scriptures this morning as we look at John Mark, the man, and find a reliable picture of him. Now some traditions, when they're helpful and reliable, we will use, but we want to look primarily at the Scriptures to find a portrait of the Holy Spirit for this man.

So first of all let's look at John Mark, the man, and find out a little bit about his background. 'John' was his Jewish name, 'John' simply means 'the grace of God'; 'Mark' was a Roman name, which was a bit like a surname, and it means 'the hammer'. We find out very early in the Acts of the Apostles, or somewhat early, about chapter 12, that he was the son of Mary of Jerusalem, who was a wealthy woman who owned a house in Jerusalem where the Christians met together to worship, a meeting place. Chapter 12 and verse 12 shows us that, if you care to turn to it, we find that after Peter was miraculously released from prison by an angel, it was to this home, to Mary of Jerusalem, John Mark's mother, that he went: 'And when he', verse 12, 'had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying'. Peter knew which house to go to, it was the house where the believers, some of them at least, in Jerusalem were met.

We also know from Colossians chapter 4 that John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas the encourager, the son of consolation. Of course, both Barnabas and Mark accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey that we read about in Acts chapter 12. But what becomes very clear by the time we get into chapters 13 and 15, is that this young man, John Mark, had a shaky beginning in Christian ministry. We read in chapter 13 verse 13 that he abandoned the apostle Paul, and decided that he had had enough and was returning home for whatever reason - it's not given. Paul the apostle was so unhappy with Mark that he refused to take him on his second missionary journey, even though his cousin Barnabas had recommended him and suggested this. This suggestion actually started a bitter quarrel between the apostle Paul and Barnabas, which ended with Paul and Silas going one way, and Barnabas and John Mark going another. Then we lose sight of John Mark for about six or seven years, and for all we know those may have been wasted years for him in a spiritual sense.

Although the details are lacking - I admit that - Paul and Mark, we find, later reconciled. Something happened in the life of John Mark to make him a mighty servant of God. When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, we read that there was some kind of reconciliation, and Mark actually served as the apostle Paul's aide, then he became a delegate to him in Rome in service, from Rome to Asia Minor - we find that from Philemon 24 and Colossians 4:10. Later we find that Paul would ask Timothy to bring John Mark back with him to Rome, because he was useful to him in the service of the Lord. If you care to turn to 2 Timothy chapter 4, we read these words in verses 9 through to 11 - 2 Timothy 4 verse 9, Paul says to Timothy: 'Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark', that is, John Mark, 'and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry'.

It's interesting not only to see how Mark was restored, but to see also how the apostle Paul - who had been so scathing and unwavering in his criticism of him earlier - is so generous in recognising Mark's restoration

Who is this man John Mark, this young man? Well, he is a man who had a serious spiritual blip. He also became, through that backsliding error, a cause for division between two great men of God. But the surprising thing to us this morning for our consideration, as we embark upon an exposition of Mark's Gospel, is that this was the man that the Holy Spirit turned to to write an account, as we read of in Mark 1 verse 1, of the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't know about you, but I'm left dumbfounded, expressing 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound'! That, in application, is very sweet; because one may have been, as Mark, a failed servant in the service of Christ; one may even have been a cause for dissension among brethren, and unrest in the assembly; yet still here we have John Mark in his Gospel giving us an exemplary depiction of the servant of Christ.

It's interesting not only to see how Mark was restored, but to see also how the apostle Paul - who had been so scathing and unwavering in his criticism of him earlier - how he is so generous in recognising Mark's restoration, how he accepts the fact that God's grace had restored him, and therefore Paul very readily reinstates John Mark as an invaluable servant of Jesus. He recognised grace at work in the life of John Mark. What a tremendous lesson there is in this for us all. Erwin T. Lutzer wrote a book entitled 'Failure Is the Back Door to Success' - we often are familiar with the apostle Peter concerning failure and how he was restored, but do we ever think of John Mark? Here is a young man who, as far as we are concerned when we reach the middle of the Acts of the Apostles, his Christian service is over - but God turned to him by His Spirit to write an account of the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus!

Now when we turn to 1 Peter, we find that when Peter was writing his first epistle in Rome, Peter affectionately calls John Mark his 'son' - 1 Peter 5:13. Now Peter, of course, as I've said, was no stranger to failure himself. Who knows, it could've been his influence on the younger Mark that was instrumental in helping him out of his spiritual instability of youth, and into the strength and maturity that he would need to serve the Lord in the work that He had called him to. Whatever the case was, we believe that it was Mark's close relationship with the apostle Peter which motivated and enabled him to write the intimate portrait of Christ that we have in these sixteen chapters of Mark's Gospel. Now we can't prove this point, and scholars are generally in agreement on it, but we know that Mark and Peter were together in Rome in later years - we know that from 1 Peter 5:13. We also know that Peter was intending, before his own death, to make a permanent record of his memories of Christ. If we read 2 Peter 1:15-16, he says there: 'Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty'. He seems to indicate that he wanted to put down his reminiscences of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of the early fathers in the church believed that what we have in Mark's Gospel is really the memory of the apostle Peter concerning our Lord.

The earliest statement about the Gospel of Mark was written by a man called Papius, the Bishop of Hierapolis in AD 140. He said this: 'Mark became Peter's interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered'. Justin Martyr, an early church father writing in AD 150, referred to Mark - that is, the Gospel of Mark - as the memoirs of Peter. Ireaneus, writing in AD 185, called Mark 'the disciple and interpreter of Peter' - and he recorded that 'the second Gospel' of Mark consisted of what Peter actually preached in his sermons about Christ. On that vein, it's interesting to note that the outline of Mark's Gospel parallels remarkably with Peter's sermon preaching Christ in Acts chapter 10 - that's for another day, but you should go home and look at that, it's the same outline.

The common belief of scholars is that the text we read in Mark 14:51 that refers to this young man in a linen cloth who ran away naked, that this is Mark's modest signature to the book. It's Mark's way of saying that it is he who has authored this Gospel. But I want you to get this point as we think of Mark the man, before we go on any further examining his method of writing: what a recovery this young man made! Am I speaking to a young man or a young woman, or a not so young man or woman, who had a blip in their spiritual experience in their youth? What a recovery this Mark made! Starting off as a companion of Paul, and then having this backslidden experience, causing dissension among brethren - and then God comes to him for a work that He still has him to do. The poet put it like this:

Am I speaking to a young man or a young woman, or a not so young man or woman, who had a blip in their spiritual experience in their youth? What a recovery this Mark made!

'They on the heights are not the souls
Who never erred nor went astray,
Or reached those high rewarding goals
Along a smooth, flower-bordered way.

Nay, those who stand where first comes dawn
Are those who stumbled - But went on'.

Mark stumbled, but went on. Now it's important to remember this when we consider Mark's message, which I'll deal with later on, but which was encapsulated in chapter 10 and verse 45: 'The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve'. Here we have...if anything, Mark's Gospel is the Gospel that portrays the perfect Servant of Jehovah in the person of the Lord Jesus. Now think about this: Mark, the failed servant, setting forth the perfect Servant. Mark, who was first the servant and attendant of Paul and then failed, and then became the servant and attendant of his cousin Barnabas, and according to reliable tradition later in life became the servant and attendant of the apostle Peter before his death - here he is, a man who had both failed and succeeded as a servant, setting forth the ideal Servant, Jesus Christ. He was the right man for the job.

Let's look secondly at John Mark, his method - because his message, which we'll deal with in a moment or two later, is reflected in the distinctive features that you have in Mark's Gospel, compared with Matthew, Luke and John. You do know that there are differences in the Gospels? For instance, most agree that Matthew's Gospel sets forth Jesus as the King, and His kingdom. Luke's Gospel sets forth the Son of Man, and the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. John's Gospel sets forth how He is the Son of God, how He is divine. But Mark's Gospel sets forth the servanthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now it's interesting to note that some believe that there is a type and representation of this in the faces of the cherubim that you have in various apocalyptic books of the Bible. For instance, the cherubim in Ezekiel have four faces, one face of a lion, one face of a man, one face of an eagle, one face of an ox. Many Bible teachers have seen the parallels here: the lion being the face of the King; the man obviously speaking of Christ's humanity; the eagle speaking of soaring in the heavenlies, the deity of Christ; and the ox, an animal of service, speaking of the servanthood of our Lord Jesus. One thing is clear, that this man Mark, who was a servant, in his method in writing this Gospel sets forth, even in the literary scheme of the book, how Christ came as the Servant of Jehovah.

One thing is clear, that this man Mark, who was a servant, in his method in writing this Gospel sets forth, even in the literary scheme of the book, how Christ came as the Servant of Jehovah

Let me show you this, and this is seen perhaps more in the things that are omitted from Mark's Gospel in comparison to Matthew, Luke and John, than that which is included. For instance, if you turn to the first chapter of Mark's Gospel, there's no genealogy of our Lord Jesus. You find it in Matthew and in Luke, but it's not there in Mark - there is nothing to be said about Christ's birth. I don't know why that is completely, but certainly one aspect of it is: there was a visit by the wise men to pay homage to the Lord Jesus as the one who would be born King, but people never pay homage to a servant. Mark is setting forth the Servant. Mark particularly emphasises the deeds of the Lord Jesus as opposed to the words of the Saviour. For instance, there are 19 miracles in Mark's Gospel but there are only four parables - and, incidentally, all of those four parables have to do with service as their theme. What Mark omits, for example, one parable he leaves out is the parable of the householder who hires the labourers - the reason being, because the Lord Jesus Christ in Mark's Gospel is depicted as a servant, He is in the place of a labourer, He isn't hiring anyone.

Another parable that he leaves out is the parable of the marriage of the King's son. You remember that one came into the marriage feast and was not adorned correctly, and he was cast out - it's not there, probably because it's not the servant's place to cast anyone out. There's no Sermon on the Mount in Mark's Gospel, because chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew's Gospel where we find the Sermon on the Mount is understood as the King's Manifesto, the laws of the kingdom, it describes the character of the subjects of Christ the King in His kingdom - but Mark is not presenting Christ as a King, he is presenting Christ as the workman of God, the Servant who has no kingdom, who frames no laws. Nothing whatever is said in Mark's Gospel about Christ's command over principalities and powers and the angels. Nothing is said of His right to send them forth to do His bidding, instead what we actually find in chapter 1 and verse 13 is that the angels ministered unto Him. There's no sentence of judgment passed on Israel by Christ in Mark's Gospel, because obviously it's not the place of a servant to pass judgment on others, indeed anyone.

Then we see that there is an omission of divine titles within Mark's Gospel. Sometimes people think when you omit a divine title, even in your prayer, that you in some way are being dishonouring to the Lord Jesus Christ - well, this puts paid to that, because Mark leaves out divine titles. The only time that Christ is referred to as a King is in derision in Mark's account of the crucifixion. We do not read in Mark, as we do in Matthew, that 'They shall call His name Immanuel, God with us' - that doesn't mean He's not, or that Mark didn't believe it, it just means that what Mark is conveying to us is the servanthood of Christ. He's only once termed the 'Son of David', which is a regal title. Highly significant is the fact that He is frequently addressed in Mark's gospel as 'Master', and yet in parallel passages in the other Gospels, in the same instance, He's not called 'Master' but 'Lord'. For instance, I'll give you one example, Matthew chapter 8 and verse 25: 'And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying', as they were in the storm on the boat, 'Lord, save us: we perish'. Yet in Mark's account, in Mark 4:38: 'He', the Lord Jesus, it says, 'was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?'.

In Matthew He is 'Lord', in Mark He is 'Master'. I'll give you another example of it, if you look at Matthew chapter 17, the account of the Transfiguration. We read there that Peter, after seeing this great sight, and Elijah and Moses at either side of the Lord: 'said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here'...and then he talks about making little booths, little temples to worship in. But Mark, when he gives his account in chapter 9 verse 5, says: 'And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here'. Even when you come to the betrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 26, we find that around the table each disciple is asking themselves: 'Am I the one that is going to betray the Lord Jesus Christ?', and Peter said in verse 22 of Matthew 26 unto Jesus: 'Lord, is it I?'. Yet in Mark's Gospel 14:19 it says: 'They began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?' - not 'Lord', just 'Is it I?'. The words of the dying thief are omitted from Mark's Gospel, what were they? 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom'. It's omitted from Mark because a servant doesn't have a kingdom, neither is he presented as Lord.

He omits things concerning the Lord Jesus that speak of His royalty, or of His Lordship, or of His deity - not because he doesn't believe in it, but the Holy Spirit has given him the responsibility to set forth Christ as the Servant of Jehovah

So Mark's message is reflected in the man who the Holy Spirit turned to to write the message - he was a servant who both failed and succeeded in service of others. But it's also reflected in his method, how he omits things concerning the Lord Jesus that speak of His royalty, or of His Lordship, or of His deity - not because he doesn't believe in it, but the Holy Spirit has given him the responsibility to set forth Christ as the Servant of Jehovah.

So we come thirdly to John Mark and his message. Now let me say a couple of things concerning his purpose in writing this Gospel. The first purpose I believe he had was to make the good news accessible to Gentiles. This, if you like, is a missionary book. Mark's Gospel is a Gospel that was written, and you find that it omitted what we would call 'insider language'. He uses Roman terms because he's writing to Gentile people in a Roman world. He explains Aramaic words, that is the language spoken in the day of Jesus, because Gentiles wouldn't have understood it. Incidentally, there's a scarcity of Old Testament quotations in Mark's Gospel - because Gentiles would not have been familiar with Old Testament Scriptures. Now, if I had the time, we could take a lot of lessons in our evangelism out of the fact that Mark's Gospel was to make the good news accessible to those who were not insiders, to those who had never heard - you work that out for yourself.

Secondly, his purpose was to be an apologist of the cross of Jesus. In other words, he wants to set forth the significance of Jesus' death, explaining it. Mark, as you find, and we will as we go through it week by week, he wants to make clear that the death of Jesus was not a tragic accident, but it was part of God's plan from the very beginning. Jesus knew He was going to die, and indeed He told His disciples that He was going to die, even though they misunderstood Him. So what Mark wants to set forth is that God chose to bring His kingdom to bear through the shameful death of His chosen Servant - now that was a great stumbling block, not only to the Jew but to the Gentile: that Messiah should die in shame, that He should not only come as a Servant, but die on a cross as a criminal. The Greek mind and the Roman mind could not conceive of how a Saviour could die for others in such shame and ignominy, and then arise again. The preaching of the cross was a stumbling block, and so Mark wants to set forth an explanation of why He was to die.

It's interesting that today the cross is still a stumbling block to those who do not believe. Muslims, for instance, cannot understand that God would have allowed a great man - that's all they see Him as, or even a good prophet - to die in such a terrible way. They go as far in their theology to say that He didn't die. Some say He revived again, other Muslims say that He was replaced by a substitute before He died, but Mark's point is this: Jesus was not merely a good man, He wasn't even a great prophet, but He was the Son of God, and He must die, He must be delivered into the hands of wicked sinners, He must be slain if we are to be saved!

He has a gospel purpose, he has a purpose in explaining the cross, but here's the third - and I think the one that comes to the forefront, and perhaps the one that is most applicable to us here this morning. His third purpose was to encourage those who were facing persecution, Christians who were facing persecution. Now if Peter was the source for the information in Mark's Gospel, as we believe, it's very likely that Mark's Gospel was written in Rome. We know that Rome was not only a sprawling city of a population of several million, but we know that it was from Rome that great persecution of Christians came by Nero in AD 64 - and we believe that many Christians, probably including Paul and Peter, died for their faith during Nero's reign. So Mark's Gospel has this possible background of Rome, and it seems to be aimed at Christians who were not just facing persecution, but going to face even worse persecution in the days that lie ahead. So what Mark is doing here is preparing them, he is telling them of the Christ who suffered and how He suffered, and how it was predicted that He would suffer, and He comes as the Servant of Jehovah - it's been fore-ordained, and through this suffering our redemption would come - but also, not only He suffered, but His followers would suffer.

He wants to show us Christ as the One who speaks, the One who acts and delivers in the midst of crises

So in other words, what Mark is doing is he's writing to encourage a minority church in a hostile environment to keep the faith. The One who you worship suffered, He was ordained to suffer, He came to suffer, but through His suffering your redemption has been bought - and you will suffer, but you are suffering in the line of your Saviour. Are we not a minority church today? Do we not live in a hostile environment? Should we not look to the Lord Jesus Christ and see the suffering Servant Saviour? That's why John Mark is arranging his material the way he does: he wants to show us Christ as the One who speaks, the One who acts and delivers in the midst of crises. In every age, whether you live under Neronian persecutions, whether you live during the time of Reformation where men of God have been burned at the stake, whether you live in the modern Western 21st-century of affluence and pleasure crazed society - in every age, in every circumstance the Christian needs to get a fresh focus on Christ.

I want to ask you today: have you lost focus of Him? My reason for embarking upon this study of Mark's Gospel is that we as God's people again will get taken up by seeing Jesus! How does Mark portray Jesus? He came not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many. As such, Christ is the Christ of the crisis, but He's all action in the crisis - and that's why, in Mark's Gospel, Mark uses the historical present tense 15 times: Jesus comes, not 'came', Jesus comes; Jesus says, not 'said', says; Jesus heals, not 'healed', heals - all in the present tense, what to communicate? To communicate that in the crisis of his life and the life of the disciples, He was active, He was busy, He was instrumental, He was moving, He was doing. In the same way in our crisis, in our persecution, in our difficulties: Christ is still being our Servant.

There are more miracles recorded in Mark than in any of the other Gospels, even though it is the shortest of the four. Every scene is brilliant and vivid and fast-moving - if you've ever read through Mark you'll notice the word 'immediately'. The Greek word is mentioned 42 times: immediately, immediately, immediately. The conjunction 'and' is frequent, indeed it begins 12 of Mark's 16 chapters - and, and, and. There's a rush of action, Christ's life is portrayed as super-busy. In chapter 3 we find that He has trouble finding time to eat, and in chapter 6 as well. What's Mark showing us? This is the Servant of Jehovah, and He's come to serve men at great cost, at great price, at great suffering. Wherever you find yourself today, He's still serving those in crisis.

R. Kent Hughes says: 'It takes a slow reader about two hours to read Mark through at a single sitting. If you take the time, you feel surrounded by the crowds, wearied by demands and besieged by the attacks of demons'. It's all about how Christ served - but the big question is: what does it mean to us? R. Kent Hughes in his commentary on Mark, which is excellent, at the beginning of his first chapter he tells a story about one of the world renowned scholars of the classics, Dr E .V. Rieu. He completed a great translation of Homer into modern English for Penguin Classics, some of you have seen them. In his late 60s, Kent Hughes tells the story that, being an agnostic at the end of his career, the publisher, Penguin publishers, came to him and approached him again and asked him to translate the Gospels. Can you imagine this: an agnostic classical scholar being asked to translate Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! Now, when Rieu's son heard about this, he was heard to say - listen carefully: 'It will be interesting to see what father will make of the four Gospels', then he paused, 'It will be even more interesting to see what the four Gospels make of father'. He didn't have to wonder very long - within a year's time E.V. Rieu, the lifelong agnostic, responded to the Gospels. As he translated them he faced Christ, and he became a committed Christian. His story is a testimony to the transforming power of opening up of God's word.

The question is: not what will you make of Mark's gospel, or what will I make of it, but what will Mark's gospel make of you?

Now, as we open up Mark's Gospel in an in-depth study, and we see the Servant of Jehovah - the question is: not what will you make of Mark's gospel, or what will I make of it, but what will Mark's gospel make of you? I'll tell you what it will make of us if we respond to it: it will make us servants like the Master. It will make us servants who don't just run on theory, but on action. The freshness and the vigour of Mark will grip us and make us long to serve according to the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. I once read a doctor of the mind, I wish I could remember his name, and he was asked the question: 'What advice would you give to someone who is depressed?'. Now I know this is a very carte blanche simplistic answer, but he said: 'The main thing I would tell them to do is go away and help someone else'.

If you like, this is what Mark is showing us. You're in persecution, you're in difficulty, you're suffering for your faith or for whatever reason. The best way to cope in the midst of that is to get a glimpse of your suffering serving Saviour, and to go away and forget about yourself for a wee while and serve others. The truth is, many of us want to serve Christ, we just don't want to be treated as a servant. I don't know whether Mark's abandonment by the apostle Paul in his first missionary journey was due to a shallow view, a simplistic carnal view of Christian service that he had. One thing is sure: we're going to see from Mark's Gospel that John Mark learned what perfect service was through the perfect Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who stooped to serve. We sang:

'His were the planets and stars in the sky,
His were the valleys and mountains on high,
His all earth's riches, from pole unto pole,
But He became poor to ransom my soul'.

Oh, we rejoice in it, we exalt in that truth! The condescension of Christ, the humiliation of Christ - but what about our condescension? What about my humiliation? What about becoming poor that I might make others rich? In 1878 when William Booth's Salvation Army had just been named, a man came over from the United States to enlist. He once dreamed of himself as a bishop in the church, and he crossed the Atlantic from America to England to become a member of the Salvation Army. His name was Samuel Logan Brengle, and he ended up being the head man, the First Commissioner in America. But when he first came and introduced himself to Booth, Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle: 'You've been your own boss too long', and in order to instil some humility into Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of the other trainees. Brengle said to himself: 'Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?'. Then, as if in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough unlettered fishermen, and he said: 'Lord, You washed their feet, I will black their boots'.

He came not to be served, but to serve - the question is: as we encounter God's Servant King, will we serve Him and serve others?

Father, help us these Sunday mornings through Mark or Peter's eyes to see the garden of tears, to see His hands and His feet, and let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone Him, each other's needs to prefer - for it is Christ we are serving. Lord, we thank You for the Lord Jesus, and we pray that through these studies we will not only be taken up with Him, but we will become more like Him in our service of Him and of one another. Amen.

Don't miss part 2 of our Studies In Mark: “John The Baptist, and The Beginning Of The Gospel

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
July 2006

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "John Mark - The Man, His Method, and His Message" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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