Reflections: April 26, 2021
St. Mark, Evangelist
By Alfonso Espinosa
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."(Mark 16:16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. St. Mark, the Evangelist was not an apostle, but he ministered to and assisted Peter. It is probably accurate to say that Mark knew of the details of Jesus' public ministry directly from Peter. Mark had also worked with Paul and Barnabas, and was known as "John Mark." Though he was the subject of a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:37-40, we know that later in time by the grace of God, Paul was reconciled to Mark.
In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul wrote to Timothy mentioning Mark: "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." Mark had become a powerful disciple of Jesus! In fact, history teaches us that he completed his service to the LORD as the bishop in one of the most important strategic locations of the earliest Church at Alexandria in Egypt. It was there that he died as a martyr for the sake of the Gospel.
Mark knew this saving Gospel well and he knew how one could be united to Jesus in Holy Baptism so that there would never be any doubt that the Gospel was personally received. There are several key passages on Holy Baptism in the New Testament, but Mark 16:16 might be among the most vivid in stating Baptism's indispensable nature for giving assurance of salvation. Jesus said, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Notice that Baptism is not associated with condemnation but is absolutely associated with salvation.
Peter, who most likely gave Mark important details for his Gospel, backs Mark regarding the importance of Holy Baptism: "Baptism, which corresponds to this [Noah's water], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism saves us because God uses it to unite us to the risen Jesus. And to be united to the risen Jesus is to be rescued from sin and death. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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