I posited in the last blog post that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, and set forth scriptural authority for such a theory. And I also stated that Mark was connected to Mary. But how does Mary and thus Jesus connect to Mark?
We need to look to chapter 12 of Acts, the fifth book of the New Testament, for more hints. Acts 12 tells the story of how an angel rescued Peter from jail. It’s an intense story . . . but it’s what happens once Peter is freed that’s relevant to the issue at hand. For when Peter gets out, he goes where? According to Acts 12:12:
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked on the door and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’
A few comments here. First, Peter could have gone anywhere. But he went to Mary’s house, and it appears as if Mary’s house was thus the center of the growing movement in Israel, because a lot of people were gathered there and were praying. Also, the servant girl knew Peter very well; in other words, he was a frequent visitor to that house.
But wait! There’s more! We also know that Mary lived at the house with Jesus’ brothers. We get this from Acts 12:17:
Tell James and the brothers about this, he said, and then he left for another place.
We know that the James mentioned here is not James the Apostle, because he was already killed . . . we also know that Jesus’ brother was named James. So what we have is a picture of a large, extended family, all living in a big house—which would have been a reasonable thing for a married Savior to do—he would have lived with close family while he ministered, because of course he received no pay for his work. His brothers (most likely) continued in the family carpentry business.
We also know that Jesus’ best and most insanely difficult miracle (aside from coming back to life himself) was the one he performed on Lazarus—the husband of Martha, Mary’s sister. John 11: 1-2. (The Bible characterizes Lazarus as Martha’s brother, but I believe they were married; all the same, the Bible confirms that Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were related and were close family). And remember that scene? Remember when Mary cried out, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died” and Jesus in response wept! John 11:32-35. Once again, for emphasis: Jesus wept. Does he weep at any other time during his ministry? I think not—but he weeps when his wife’s brother passes away. And then he heals him.
Coming back to the issue of Mark . . . we know Mark was Mary’s son. We also know this incredibly important fact about Mark: he wrote the first and most cited of all the gospels in the New Testament. We also see Mark traveling all around with Paul, and when this relationship fractures, Mark travels with Peter . . . and then Mark does two things: he writes the authoritative account of Jesus AND he founds the eastern wing of the church in Alexandria, or in Egypt, which at the time was a hotbed, an intellectual powerhouse in Northern Africa. Which begs the question: why would Mark be trusted with these fundamental and huge undertakings if he were not close family? After all, he was not the charismatic speaker Paul, nor was he the outspoken and excellent leader Peter—and yet all the other disciples trusted his writings and his leadership enough to rely on his first gospel.
Was Mark simply a friend of the family? Or was he, like Mary, so much more? And why else would Mark part from Paul, who himself departed the most from the Savior’s basic teachings, unless Mark knew and truly grasped the Word as well as or perhaps better than any other of the Apostles? What makes most sense is that Mark was Jesus’ young son, not old enough to lead when Jesus died, but old enough to take his rightful place as a leader and disciple in the years after Jesus died.
Many people ask me why all of this isn’t laid out more clearly in the gospels. For one thing, it was not proper to call attention to yourself directly—that’s what we see in the Gospel of John. When John describes himself, he never uses his actual name. For example, in the Crucifixion scene, where Mary Magdalene, John, and Mary, Jesus’s mother stand beside the Savior, John writes:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27.
Like John, Mark was reticent to call attention to himself in his formal writings. But there’s another, more sinister, and yet practical reason why the early gospels don’t connect the dots more clearly between Mark, Mary and Jesus: the family was at risk. After all, they’d just killed Jesus. They killed Stephen. They arrested Peter . . . and the persecution of the early Christians continued right up until Mark himself was dragged by the neck through the streets of Alexandria many years later.
It was dangerous enough to be a disciple. It was much more risky to be the Savior’s wife and children. And that, coupled with gender discrimination as well as the later notion that a holy man should be a chaste man . . . has led to the burying of the truth regarding the wife and son of Jesus. But the truth lies within the scriptures itself, simply awaiting discovery and a fresh examination by open minds.