Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. ~Acts 13:13
Have you ever made plans to go on a journey somewhere, only to turn back? Maybe you turned back because you forgot something. Maybe you turned back because of adverse travel conditions. Maybe you turned back because you decided you didn’t want to go any longer. Our devotion this morning centers on a man who turned back while at the beginning stages of an opportunity to impact lives. What happens when you turn back? Are there consequences when you turn back?
We see the reason.
John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas. It was at John Mark’s home where the disciples were gathered together at a prayer meeting for Peter to be released from prison. God answered this prayer and Peter was released. Barnabas saw great spiritual potential in his nephew and invited him to join him and Paul on their first missionary endeavor. He saw the exciting conversion of Sergius Paulus and how the Lord blinded the false prophet, Elymas. However, we are told that John Mark departed from Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem. People turn back because they lose heart in what they are doing. People turn back because they do not want to commit to the demands of serving God on His terms. People turn back because they cannot submit to spiritual authority. People turn back because they are not diligently praying. People turn back because there is unconfessed sin in their life.
We see the repercussions.
John Mark’s departure was a source of heartache and disappointment for Paul and Barnabas. Neither of these men saw his departure coming. John’s departure left a gap for service. John Mark’s return to Jerusalem was a disappointment to the brethren and spiritual leaders in his church. It was likely that he withdrew himself from active service. It is possible that, upon his return, he did not attend church for a space of time. Later on when Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem to give a report of how the Lord opened the door of faith for the gospel, they had to eventually cross paths with John Mark. As Paul and Barnabas were ready to return to the churches they started to see how they were doing, Barnabas desired that they take John Mark with them. Paul thought it not good that he go with them. This led to a serious contention between Paul and Barnabas, and they separated from each other. John Mark’s faithfulness, which is a benchmark of integrity, was a key factor if he could be trusted again in the future.
We see the recovery.
What happened to John Mark? Well, I am thankful there is good news in this. In his closing words in II Timothy, Paul told Timothy to take John Mark with him, because he was profitable to him for the ministry. John Mark got restored in his walk with God, his work for God, and his worthiness for God. Barnabas may have spent the remaining years of his life working on restoring John Mark. John Mark regained his credibility and trust with fellow servants of God. John Mark was making an impact in other lives because he was profitable to the ministry. I believe that behind the scenes John Mark confessed his sins, became faithful in his Bible reading and praying, consistently began witnessing again, asked for forgiveness from those he hurt, and looked for ways to be profitable. Because of his recovery, God used this man to give us the Gospel of Mark. It doesn’t matter who we are or how far we fall: we can always recover! Not only can we recover, but we can also be used of God again.
Turning back has serious implications. If you have turned back, decide today to be restored in fellowship with God and those you may have disappointed. If the symptoms of withdrawal are making you feel like retreating, stop it in its tracks and get spiritual help now. Don’t turn back!
Have a steadfast God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Jeremiah 42-45