From AWOL to Asset
Acts 15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
2 Timothy 4:11 Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Several key facts that we know without any doubt:
- Saul and Barnabas were authorized to go on this first trip by both the Holy Spirit and their local church – Acts 13:2, 3
- John Mark was with Paul and Barnabas on the outset of their first missionary journey – Acts 13:5
- John Mark left this team pre-maturely in Pamphylia – Acts 13:13 (confirmed in Acts 15:37, 38)
- John Mark was the nephew to Barnabas – Colossians 4:10
- John Mark later became a vital part of Paul’s ministry and was described as “profitable to me”.
No details are given as to why John Mark abandoned them on this trip.
We can only speculate.
Read Acts 13:6-12
John Mark may have left for several reasons, of which these are reasons why many people quit today.
- He may have left because he was never called of God to go in the first place. (13:2)
- He may have been scared off by the Satanic opposition – vs. 8
- He may have been offended by the abrasiveness of Paul’s message – vs. 10
- He may have been put off by Paul’s reaction – vs. 11 Paul struck the man blind
- He may have gotten tired of the discomforts and difficulties of ministry. (the work – 15:38)
Here’s what we can know about this story.
- Whenever there is a hunger for the Word of God, the devil sticks his head up – vs. 6, 7, 8
- This incident had a life-long effect on Saul (whose name was called Paul after this) – vs. 8
- Whether you agree with Paul’s tactics or not, one thing is clear; he was Spirit-filled – vs. 9
- The Word of God was withstood, but not overcome. The deputy believed. – vs. 12
I. His Determination – He didn’t let past failures determine his future
One of the greatest tools of Satan is our tendency to fail.
We make mistakes.
We mess up.
We get it wrong.
We can’t stop trying.
John Mark didn’t abandon ministry.
He didn’t lose interest in missions and evangelism.
He didn’t choose new friends and an easier path.
He got back in the saddle.
- Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:
II. His Discipline – He didn’t let rejection become an obsession
How would you like for the Apostle Paul to respond to your desire to serve God as “not good”
Imagine someone like Paul giving you the cold shoulder and pouring cold water on your ministry ambitions!
John Mark didn’t opt out – he was determined to go again, and to succeed this time.
Bitterness has robbed many a Christian of the chance to prove their love for the Lord.
- Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
III. His Description – He didn’t let what people think of him define who he became
There is no question about it – Paul thought he wasn’t cut out for ministry.
Paul was so put off with John’s failure to finish the first missionary tour that he didn’t want him on the second one.
Notice the Scripture – he departed from them…and went not with them to the work.
Yet, he was described by Paul as “profitable to me”.
This is one instance where the man of God was wrong, and was thrilled to be proven wrong.