John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark, is our first example of “fruit” from a ministry, that of Barnabas his cousin (Colossians 4:10). Barnabas “the encourager” took him under his wing when he and Paul had a falling out because of Mark (Acts 15:39). We really don’t hear a lot about Barnabas again but Paul tells Timothy to bring him along when he comes to see him (2Timothy 4:11). That is a real turn around for Paul and a line of thought is that change in Mark was because of Barnabas. He also helped Peter in his ministry (1 Peter 5:13).
Barnabas gets credit for the “fruit” but lets look at where the “seeds” got planted. (Warning some of this comes from a very active imagination.)
Jesus himself, I believe, planted the seeds of Mark’s faith, because I think Mark was frequently with the disciples. Many scholars will say that there is a probability that Mark was the young man who “lost” his clothes in the Garden the night Jesus was arrested. Why would he have been with them? The upper room was at his house! Peter went back to Mary’s house (there were several) after the angel let him out of jail (Acts 12:12) this Mary is identified as Mark’s mother. That would have also put him in the prayer meeting at Pentecost and possibly he was the one carrying the jug that the disciples followed to find the room (Mark 14:13).
Personally, I think that Peter and Andrew were his uncles and James and John were his cousins (Why not?). That would lead into this idea real easy; Mark was the little boy with the five biscuit and two fish lunch. (I warned you.) I actually wrote a short story along that train of thought; he went along for the boat ride when Jesus needed the rest. But can you imagine getting a little boy’s attention for life with that miracle and what could his mother say when he comes home with twelve baskets of leftovers.
See this site for St. Mark http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/Saint.aspx?id=1364
Now for the nuts – almonds.
The two stories that always get my attention about almonds are the ones in: Jeremiah 1: 11,12 I see a rod of almond; You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it. and Numbers 17:8 were Aaron’s rod produced almonds in the Tent of Meetings.
The almond tree is the first tree to blossom in the spring so it became associated with watchers and the “first one”; the word almond comes from “shaqad” to be alert, sleepless, on the lookout for – hasten, remain, wake, watch. These scriptures are where it is used with these meanings: Watch– Jeremiah 31:28, 44:27, Proverbs 8:34; Wake-Psalm 127:1; Hasten– Jeremiah 1:12. It is a play on words in Jeremiah 1:12 with the almonds and watching (footnote NIV).
The name Luz (the town that became Bethel) has a reference to almond trees. This is where Jacob had his dream of the ladder to heaven.
The menorah or lamp had almond shaped cups for the flames. The Macabees received a miracle, the sign to continue the rebellion, with this type of lamp. The oil kept burning for a week instead of a day.
Over the years I have used several reference books to gather this material on almonds but this one had several interesting stories with it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond
For menorah pic http://www.judaica-mall.com/16307.htm