Acts 13:4-13, Acts 15:36-41, 2 Timothy 4:11
John Mark like several other followers of Christ was known by two names. John was his Jewish name, and means ‘the grace of God’; Mark was a Roman name, which was a bit like a surname, and it means ‘the hammer’. Interestingly he experienced both the hammer of human failure as well as the grace of God’s forgiveness. What do we know of this man named John Mark:
A. Biological Family
He had a Godly heritage. In Acts 12 when an angel supernaturally sprung Peter from prison we learn that the first place he went was to the home of Mary, John Marks mother. It is here that we discover that she was most likely a Prominent Woman – a woman of wealth who had a house large enough for the church to meet in. She was a Praying Woman, for when Peter showed up he found them in a prayer meeting. Despite the problems and his imprisonment Peter didn’t find them in a panic he found them in prayer, what truths are you teaching your children. She was also a woman of purpose and power for although the early church was in danger, she trusted God. Not only did he have a godly mother but a Missionary Uncle named Barnabas who was a Great Encourager, a Genuine Example , A Generous Man, and a good and gifted man. John Mark also had a
B. Biblical Family
Not only did he have a godly heritage but he also had a great headstart in the faith. It was probably Peter who won Him to Christ for Peter in 1 Peter 5:13 refers to Mark as his son. Not only did he have a faithful family but he also had a:
2. FUNCTION – Purpose
He was called and commissioned by the Holy Spirit to serve. Men you are not just here to take up space, you are here to serve. We are saved to serve, we have a higher and holier calling than self. This doesn’t just teach us about the meaning of ministry but also the motivation. Its not about the man its about the Messiah. The King of Kings has called and commissioned us to represent His righteousness. The question we need to answer is how will we respond, this isn’t a request it’s our God given role. John Mark was given the position of an assistant, in the Greek this word is a nautical term, it literally means, under-rower, a galley slave who sat in the belly of the boat and rowed. He didn’t determine the direction of the ship he just served to move it forward. Men I want you to note that this isn’t a position of power or prestige, its actually the opposite it’s the unseen work that belongs below deck. It’s the silent sweat, the private prayer that pushes the ship through the watery waves. But most men don’t know about the hard work in the hull because they refuse to be humble. The biggest reason we don’t live out our purpose is pride. We want to stand in the wheel house and be called captain, but the goal is not glory its giving God our best. The galley salve is not a glorious position but it’s vital because without rowers the ship is dead in the water. Without servants the ship will always be is still. Where are you sitting in the ship, are you in the seat that says servant or served? Men how would things be different if we faithfully lived out our function? How would things be different if we made the decision to be dedicated to our calling and not our cares?
Like death and taxes, failure is one of those things in life we all have in common. We may not have our failures pasted like Mark on the pages of scripture but we know what failure feels like. Failure hurts, haunts and it hinders us. A faithful family is a wonderful thing but its not enough to keep you from failure. All failure has its start in our:
a. Decisions –
John Mark’s decision resulted in his desertion. This was a decision that involved deliberate disobedience to God’s Will. Are you going to walk out God’s Will or walk out on God’s Will? Verse 13 stands in such sharp contrast to the rest of the passage that it just seems out of place. After successfully defeating Satans schemes John Mark just quietly quits less than half way thru. Why the decision to desert? I think it’s the same reason why many men walk away today? Living a holy life is hard, walking according to God’s Will is all out war. Because obedience involves:
May be he saw service as an obstacle to success, perhaps his position as an under servant was one of the things that was upsetting to John Mark. So far things had been fairly level, smooth sailing, but now as they land in Perga they have a new challenge, the terrain was changing, in front of them lay the Taurus Mountain range. Things were going to get tough. Not quite half way and already there is one who wants to turn back. You may think that the longer you walk with God the easier it will get, but the truth is the further you journey with Jesus and the more faithful you are to the Father the greater the responsibility you will receive. Despite the disappointment Paul and Barnabas pushed on, don’t let other men’s failure of desertion derail you, determine to be dedicated. Don’t be afraid of responsibility, don’t shy back or shirk God’s call. They didn’t focus on the terrain they focused on truth, they kept their eyes on Author not the adversity. With every turn there is a change in the terrain, when things go from trying to tough. Both ministry and marriage will present you with moments of challenge but they don’t have to be a mess. Don’t focus on the challenges focus on Christ. Serving the Savior can be a steep uphill climb but nothing trumps the view from the top. Not only are there obstacles but there is also an:
You don’t have to hang in there during the Honey moon, hard times????? Where to put????
They were opposed by Bar-Jesus a sorcerer who served Satan. You have an enemy that will engage you. Satan’s servants will stand in the way of you serving the Savior and notice that this satanic servant attached himself to the governor, he anchored himself to authority. His goal was to keep the governor from believing in God. He wanted to prevent him from having a personal relationship with Jesus. Satan’s schemes have not changed since the beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He wants to seduce you with sin and keep you from the Savior, to get you to walk away from God’s Will. But I want you to see that the Holy Spirit thru Paul didn’t just disarm the devil He disabled him. God didn’t counter Satan he crushed him. You don’t have to be afraid, yes you need to count the cost of serving Christ (Salvation is free but our service will cost), but you also need to consider who won the conquest. As I have said before stop focusing on the obstacle and focus on the opportunity. The obstacle was Satan but the opportunity was Salvation. Are you going to focus on the voices of opposition or the voice of victory? It is in the midst of problems that we often see God’s mighty power.
Your decision impacts your direction. Which path will you travel, that of Self-Will or the Savior’s Will? These men had been sent out by the Holy Spirit, but once in the field Mark began to focus on his feelings instead of the Fathers Will. He didn’t just question His calling he called it quits. Failure comes in many forms, it fit all shapes and sizes but the bottom line is that failure is the result of not following God’s plan. Many are seduced into sexual failure because we choose to serve pleasure instead of God’s plan. When the going got hard John focused on home, Paul and Barnabas focused on the Hope. You have a choice you can focus on and do what God has called you to do or what you want to do, but don’t whine when you get what comes with not follow God’s Will. Focusing on fear caused John Mark to flee, focusing on the Father caused Paul and Barnabas to be faithful and forge ahead. What direction are you heading in, what path are you on, the path of Least Resistance or the path of the Lord’s Rule? Are you walking in god’s Will or your wants? Not only do disobedient decisions impact our direction but they also create:
Failure not only brings misery to us but it but it affects the ministry and fractures families. Acts 15 moves us forward two years, where when Paul asked Barnabas to go on a second missionary journey and Barnabas suggested taking John Mark a sharp contention arose. Your decision to live in disobedience can create division. Look around at the fractures in our families they are the result of our failure to follow God’s plan. Our disobedience is not just dividing our families its destroying them. What about you can your family count on you? Just when they needed John Mark the most, he gave up. Fathers according to God’s plan you are foundational to the success of the family, Men we matter, our call is critical. You have been called to be faithful, don’t flee from your calling, don’t give in to the feelings of failure. Fathers who vacate their calling create a vacuum. Are you going to be part of the vacuum or the victory? Are you going to be a fair weather faith or a faithful follower?
4. FORGIVENESS – Acts 15:36-41 & 2 Timothy 4:11
We get to see failure from 2 perspectives, Paul first perspective was that quitters aren’t qualified. He looked upon John Mark as one who was not worth of Kingdom work. The second perspective is not just more positive but it’s the proper one and that’s of Barnabas. Something in his heart wouldn’t let him give up on John Mark. Just because John had given up on him didn’t mean Barnabas would give up on John. 2 years had passed and I’m going to tell you that time doesn’t fix failure forgiveness does. Now the question for all of us that are familiar with failure is which of these 2 perspectives will we pursue? He could have listened to the perspective of Paul and decided that he was done forever, that he had squandered his potential and that his failure was final. Or he could respond to Barnabas and the gift of God’s grace and say yes to the second chance. Never take grace for granted it isn’t cheap, it cost Barnabas a good friend. John Mark could have believed that Paul had a personal vendetta against him and become bitter. He had a choice, settle for a life of grumbling or a life of grace. Do you know what defines a great man, grace. There are no short-cuts to becoming great man of God. If a man tries to run from or remove the disappointments, defeats, discouragements, and difficulties, he is removing the finishing touches of God’s hand in his life. Failure placed into the hands of God can be fruitful. Too often we allow the circumstances instead of the creator to place the finishing touches on our lives. We let the bitter disappointments, and the trials conform our character in such a way that nothing profitable ever comes of them. Don’t just learn from you failure let it cause you to lean on the Father. The gift of God’s grace means that you don’t have to dwell in defeat, you can live in victory. 2 Timothy 4:11 is not just a powerful verse because Paul forgives, but because John Mark is restored to his original call. The Holy Spirit had called and commissioned John Mark to come alongside Paul and serve but he had walked away from God’s plan. You may have walked away from God but He hasn’t quit on you. God wasn’t just giving John another shot at serving he was restoring him to the position of rower. So let me ask you men are you going to row the boat or run? It was in forgiveness that John found the freedom to live out who God had called him to be and what God had called him to do. He stopped looking at his position and started to look at the privilege. God called him right back to the same place, serving alongside Paul. You were not called to serve solo, you need each other. You don’t have to be paralyzed by your past, you can find forgiveness and freedom. Are you going to live under the heavy hand of failure or in the forgiving hand of the Father? It was John Mark the failure who God the Father used to write the book of Mark. And the message of Marks’s gospel is captured in a single verse, For even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for all” Mark 10:45. Men you were made for more than mediocrity, you were saved to serve, you can finish well or fail at the finish?
The Message of Mark is one of:
A.Family –We should thank God for our family, especially our faith family.
B.Faith –We must determine in our own hearts to serve the Lord.
C.Forgiveness –We should seek to serve and give others a second chance. Are you going to write people off or help them get right?
D.Failure – Failure is not final for those who find the Fathers forgiveness.
E.Future –We can all be “profitable” in God’s service.
Acts 13:4-13, Acts 15:36-41, 2 Timothy 4:11