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Journey with Mark - Introduction - Mark 1:1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark 1:1
The first thing that strikes you about the first verse of Mark is that he is saying that his book is just the beginning of the gospel of Jesus.  There is sooo much more than just this book, but it's a great place to start, because it's the beginning!
The Book
Every indication we have is that this is the first book that was written in the New Testament, written about 20 years after Jesus died (and rose!).  It is generally agreed that the purpose of the book was to simply tell new believers about Jesus, and also help Christians tell others about Jesus.  Because of this, it is written in a very easy to understand way, and moves very quickly.
Who was Mark?
Mark was the daughter of a very rich woman in Jerusalem.  He was a mama's boy.  And he was a wus.  He was not one of the twelve disciples, but was around during Jesus' ministry.  Here are the reasons we know Mark (also called John Mark) was a fearful man.
When they came to seize Jesus to be crucified, Mark 14:51 and 52 record:
And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
Most commentators agree that Mark was referring to himself here.  He was actually there when they came to take our Savior away, and ran away naked!  Imagine the shame of knowing that you had done that.  But Scripture tells us they all left Jesus, and Peter even denied Him.
Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
Acts 15:37-38
This passage actually tells us that Mark had gone on a missionary journey with Paul and had abandoned him.  Why?  Because it got too scary.  Paul's missionary journeys were filled with hardship, and Mark couldn't handle it.  He ran home to mama.
HOWEVER, failure was not the end of the story for Mark.  Barnabas, who was actually Mark's cousin, took Mark back into missionary work.  In 2 Timothy, Paul says this:
Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.    2 Timothy 4:11
So in the end Mark was restored with Paul, and God used him to write one of the books of the New Testament!  Amazing!
What we will see in Mark is an amazing account of how Jesus used some very inadequate and fearful disciples to accomplish his ministry.  This would be Mark's testimony too.  The story is not how amazing Mark or the disciples are, but how amazing God is.
I hope this is a good introduction to the person that wrote the Gospel of Mark.  With this background, it makes the book much easier to read.