We're studying Mary, the mother of John Mark (the author of the Gospel of Mark), this week. We mentioned that she is the widow to whose home Peter came, after his miraculous escape from the Roman jail. He knew that a large company of believers were gathered there, fervently praying for his release. The fact that the Christians met in Mary's home speaks of her great faith, for simply being hostess to the believers put her life in jeopardy.
Let's learn more about Mary now . . .
Mary must have been a wealthy widow, for her home would have needed to be pretty large to host a prayer meeting, right? (Grin) There is also a clue to her prosperity in that she had servants to help her in that home -- we studied Rhoda a few weeks ago. She was the servant girl who answered the door.
Mary's brother (or brother-in-law) was Barnabas, who so generously sold a piece of land and gave all of the proceeds to the church to help poor and homeless believers. Just as he gave up his land for his Savior, so Mary gave up her home to be used as a church and a place of refuge. At the time, Christians were being persecuted, and she was putting her own life in danger to have her house known as a center of spiritual gatherings.
Mary must have been generous as Barnabas was, and self-sacrificing, too, for it must have required time and effort to take care of so many believers, struggling to find food and shelter. It may have been that Rhoda hesitated at the door, thinking that it was a contingent of Herod's soldiers, who had come to arrest some of the Christians at the prayer meeting, or even Mary herself. I'm sure that may be one reason why she was so joyful to realize it was Peter's voice, not a gruff military man!
Mary's influence is seen in the life of her son, John Mark, as well. He must have learned his straight-forward ways (his gospel doesn't have flowery language, just the facts!) from her, and his love for Jesus and other believers must have been inspired by her example, too. As my grandma used to say, she must have "raised him right." (Grin) Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey that Paul undertook, but he turned back when they were in Perga. Perhaps he was deeply attached to his mom, and went back to Jerusalem for that reason.
(Acts 13:13)Because of his mom's influence, John Mark wanted to be a helper on the missionary journeys. Plural? Yep. Even though there was a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas about Mark, he did go on another mission. Barnabas defended his young cousin to Paul in Acts 15, but Paul must have been concerned about his commitment to the effort, for he resisted taking Mark along. The problem was resolved by two teams leaving for the mission field: Paul and Silas, and Barnabas and Mark.
John Mark appears to be a person of determination, and a person committed to the spreading of the gospel. It seems that he gave his life to the service of believers, for he is seen as a companion of Peter (I Peter 5:13) and also of Timothy (II Timothy 4:11). As a direct influence of his mom's cheerful and sacrificial giving to others, he was one of the fortunate few to have seen and heard Jesus during His human lifetime, and Mark also witnessed the birth and growth of the Christian church. He saw the power of God in the defeat of Herod and the miraculous spread of the gospel, in spite of persecution. All of this from a mother's love and generosity, providing an example to her son.
We'll conclude our study of Mary, Mark's mom, tomorrow!