Imagine with me for a minute that their was a story of you floating around. A story of you deserting your friends in the middle of an important job. Some time passes and it is time for your friends, the same ones you deserted, to go back out for work and you want to go too. Your decision to go causes a division between your friends that they split and go their separate ways. Imagine that this is all the world has to know about you. What do they think? What do you think?
This is the story of John Mark in the Bible. He was with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey and he deserted them (Acts 13:13) and went back home in the middle of it. There are many speculations why he left, but what we know is he left them in the middle of their journey.
Some time passes and we read in Acts 15:36-41 Paul tells Barnabas, “Lets go back and check up on people and places where we preached”. Barnabas, being the encourager that he is, said, “Great! Let’s go, I will go get John Mark.” I can just imagine the face of the Apostle Paul, because he wasn’t going to take John Mark on another trip. The Bible tells us there was a “sharp disagreement” between Barnabas and Paul, so much so that they went their separate ways, Barnabas went with John Mark and Paul went with Silas.
Now imagine that is all that was written about you in the New Testament. That you deserted your friends and then you were the cause of those friends to be in such a “sharp disagreement” with each other that they went their separate ways.
In 2 Timothy 4:11b we see a glimpse of grace;
Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.
Paul, writing to Timothy tells him to bring Mark because, “he is very useful to me.” In Acts 15 we go from Paul not wanting to take Mark because maybe he felt he was useless and may desert them again. Then at the brink of Paul’s death we read Paul’s comments, Mark is very useful to me for the work of the ministry. We see other mentions of Mark in Paul’s greetings (Col. 4:10; Phlm.1:24) and Peter’s, who would understand and have compassion for Mark’s situation (1 Pet. 5:13). But those passages don’t compare to the passage that Paul writes “Mark is very useful to me in the ministry.”
God is so gracious to Mark to not leave him with the image of a deserter, friend splitter and useless for ministry. Instead God took Mark and made him a useful tool for the work of the ministry and a writer of one of the Gospels. God can do the same with you! He can make you a tool useful for ministry.