Comebacks are hard to make in our smash-and-grab world. There never has been much room for losers. Just ask John Mark.
John Mark’s mother, Mary, was a strong follower of Jesus. There’s a good chance that the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus in the upper room of her house the night before Jesus was crucified. We do know that Mary was hosting a large prayer meeting in her home praying for the release of Peter whom Herod intended to kill. It seems that John Mark was at that prayer meeting that resulted in Peter’s miraculous jailbreak at the hands of an angel of the Lord. Young John Mark was fascinated with the devotion of the followers of Jesus and the way God was working in their lives. So we shouldn’t be too surprised that he ended up going with Barnabas and Paul on a missionary trip (Acts 12:1-17, 25).
But Paul was too adventurous for John Mark. Paul was heading into the wild mountains of Asia Minor—a lot more than John Mark had bargained for. So he left. He retreated home. Quit.
“There John Mark left [Paul and his companions] them and returned to Jerusalem… After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. (Acts 13:13; 15:36-38 NLT)
When Barnabas later suggested that they let John Mark join them again, Paul’s disgust with John Mark was so strong that he and Barnabas parted company. He had no use for a deserter. John Mark was a loser.
Somebody looks at you and makes the big “L” on their forehead and you know there is no respect for you in their heart. Maybe you blew it—whatever “it” is. Or maybe you are a loser by association. Sometimes it’s your fault; sometimes it’s not. Whatever the case, you are branded, and it seems nobody will give you another chance.
That’s what it looked like for John Mark.
But Paul, just before his execution, sends an impassioned message to Timothy—his beloved son in the faith: “Only Luke is with me. Bring [John] Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. ( 2 Timothy 4:11 NLT)
Talk about a comeback! And by the way, John Mark, the deserter, is better-known today as Mark, the writer of the second gospel in the New Testament!
How does a deserter become a New Testament writer? How does a loser make a comeback?
First, own your failure. Sometimes the accusations are right; sometimes they are wrong. Time will usually verify the truth. Take ownership of your faults and don’t point fingers.
Next, run into the arms of God. People will fail you; He never will. You see, it’s not the losses on your record that makes the difference; it’s the Christ who is in your heart. Run into the arms of God. But if you are too tired to run, look to Him and He will run to you.
Then, find someone who will walk with you through it all. We all need someone who can help us flesh out the love of God, the forgiveness of God, and the faithfulness of God so that we sense the reality of it. Thank goodness that John Mark had his cousin Barnabas who was willing to sacrifice so much to make sure this loser had a chance.
This week, maybe you need to take ownership of your failure. Run to God and let Him cleanse you (1 John 1:9). Find that friend who is closer than a brother who will walk you through this. Don’t put it off.