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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

14. JOHN MARK - a successful failure

"When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark" (Acts 12:25).

John Mark was the son of Mary, who hosted a believers' meeting in her home (Acts 12:12).

Consider the person
Mark was Mary's son and the nephew of Barnabas, the missionary companion of Paul (Col.4:10). Peter may have led him to the Lord as he calls him his 'son' (1 Pet.5:13). Barnabas and Paul brought him to Antioch from Jerusalem after they had delivered the famine relief fund to the apostles (Acts 12:25). Mark accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey as their assistant (Acts 13:5). He was probably responsible for the party's travel and lodging arrangements. For some reason he disserted the missionary group at Perga and returned home (Acts 13:13). Whatever the reason, Paul felt that his action disqualified him for future service (Acts 15:38). At that time Mark was a failure!

Study the Scriptures
About ten years Paul changed his mind about Mark, and recommended him to the Colossian church (Col.4:10-11). He included him among his fellow-workers (Phlm.24). At the end of his life, as Paul anticipated martyrdom, he called for Mark saying, "He is helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Tim.4:11). Mark had worked his way through failure and gained the apostle's respect. Mark is the traditional evangelist of the second Gospel. This is another mark of his successful recovery. He obviously had Peter's confidence, as his knowledge of the words and work of Jesus came from the apostle.

Ask questions

1. How did John Mark overcome his failure? No doubt uncle Barnabas played a large part in his restoration to ministry (remember his character: Acts11:23,24). But he may have proved himself on the second missionary journey intimated by Acts 15:36-39.

2. Some scholars suggest the young man who fled naked from Gethsemane was John Mark (see Mk.14:51-52). Does Mark the evangelist admit another failure here? If so, this confession could be part of the restoration process in his life.

3. Compare Mark with Demas the deserter (Col.4:14; Phlm.24; 2 Tim.4:10).

4. Peter failed his Lord (Lk.22:54-62). How would he encourage Mark? See Lk.22:31,32.

Apply some thoughts

1. Talk and pray with those in your fellowship who see themselves as failures.

2. Pray for the restoration of backslidden Christians. Apply Hos.14:1-4.

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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