Study 7 JOHN MARK: HE TURNED BACK!
(Scripture Portions: Acts 13: 1-13; 15: 36-41)
We all need the solemn warning of Luke 9:62, and this particular study is specially designed to warn us from taking any course which will bring dishonour upon the Name of the Lord and unhappiness into our lives. John Mark stands out on the pages of the New Testament as a great character - but he did “turn back”; however, from that position of spiritual relapse he “turned again” and was a most useful servant of the Lord and one whose ministry the apostle Paul valued tremendously (2 Timothy 4:11). In addition, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the Gospel which bears his name (2 Timothy 3:16). Let us gather up the scripture allusions to this man, whose Hebrew name was John and whose Roman name was Mark (or Marcus).
1. JOHN MARK WAS GREATLY FAVOURED IN HIS YOUTH
- His mother was a Christian. We read in Acts 12:12 that the saints met for prayer in her home. He must have had constant contact with many of God’s servants. Picture that prayer meeting and those who would have attended it (Acts 12:12) - Peter, in particular, and later on, Paul.
- He was brought up in a godly home. He had been brought up according to Ephesians 6:4, and 2 Timothy 3:15 was true of him - look up Proverbs 22:6.
- There was evidently a measure of affluence in his home. We know that this must have been so, for Acts 12:12 tells us that “many” were gathered together in Mrs Mark’s home, and therefore it must have been a fairly large house, a house where servants were kept and guests were entertained. It is not always a blessing for young people to have been “born with a silver spoon in their mouths”, but it can be so!
- Mark had consecrated relatives. We have already commented upon his mother; notice also that evidently Barnabas was his uncle or cousin - look up Colossians 4:10. What a blessing a Barnabas-like relative can be!
- Above all, John Mark was converted when he was quite young. 1 Peter 5:13 suggests that he was converted through Peter’s ministry - perhaps at the very prayer meeting recorded in Acts 12:12? How great to come to Christ when one is young, before the ravages of the world, the flesh and the devil have had time to spoil that life, and while that one has a whole life to lay at the feet of the Lord!
2. JOHN MARK ACCOMPANIED BARNABAS AND PAUL ON THEIR FIRST MISSION TO THE GENTILES BUT, ALAS, HE TURNED BACK!
When we remember his background, his home, the influence of his mother, of Peter and of the many saints he must have known, it is small wonder that John Mark had a burning desire to serve the Lord in some special way and enter what we call “full-time service”. So it was that the opportunity came to accompany Barnabas and Paul - read Acts 13:1-5. But read also Acts 13:13, where we find that he suffered a spiritual lapse. To any young people who are contemplating entering “full-time service” for the Lord we would say:-
- Count the cost. Mark may have failed just here. Perhaps he felt the great “thrill” of being a missionary but did not sufficiently face up to the hardships and problems and testings of a missionary’s life - read Luke 14:27-33.
- Do not be in too much of a hurry. 1 Corinthians 7:29 is true, and so is John 9:4 – and so is Isaiah 28:16. God never hurries when He is making and preparing His workmen - look up Deuteronomy 8:2. Discipline is necessary and the lessons of humility, obedience and trust have to be well learned.
- Be absolutely sure that your motive is pure. Why do you want to be a preacher, an evangelist, a missionary? Oswald Chambers once said, “It may be harder to face God with your motive than to face congregations with your message” - look up Psalm 139:23.
- Remember that you will have no greater success “on the field” than you are having here and now. “As now, so then”. Have you begun at home (Mark 5:19), at Jerusalem first (Acts 1:8)?
- If you become a missionary or a preacher you will have to begin by serving an apprenticeship, by being an “assistant”. Acts 13:5 tells us that Paul and Barnabas had Mark as their “helper”, but “assistant” is the word. Are you willing for that? - just to carry the “big” preachers’ equipment?
- Be absolutely sure of your call. In Acts 13:2 and 4 we read that the Holy Ghost called two men - but three went. Was this third (Mark) of man’s appointing and not of God’s? The desire, the opportunity, the need, the ability and even the invitation - these are not God’s call (though they may be present in the call) - the call of God is indicated in Acts 13:2 and 4.
- How solemn and sad it is to get out of the will of God! It brings trouble to ourselves, trouble to others, and it lets the Lord down (Acts 15:36-40).
3. THE LAST THING WE ARE TOLD ABOUT JOHN MARK INDICATES A COMPLETE RESTORATION AND REINSTATEMENT AND A FULL DEDICATION TO THE LORD AND TO HIS SERVICE
Compare Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11 - and if you have got away from the Lord confess it to Him (1 John 1:9), and come back to Him quickly!