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The Pastor's Blog

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Barnabas and Paul had spent a year together in Antioch. Their relationship was strong. They were co-workers. Partners. Friends. When God called them to begin their international mission adventure, He called them together. “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’ ” (Acts 13:2).

When they set out on their journey, they didn’t go alone. “They also had John as their assistant” (Acts 13:5).

After their fruitful ministry on the Island of Cyprus, “Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and went back to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13–14).

John Mark “left them” (Acts 13:13). He abandoned them and their Kingdom cause.

Why? Why did John Mark turn his back on Paul and Barnabas? Did he contract a life-threatening disease, or was he just homesick? Did he have a theological disagreement with his co-workers? Or was he too timid for the challenging work… the work that required supernatural boldness?

Regardless of Mark’s motivation, abandonment and rejection left a deep wound in Paul’s heart. When Paul and Barnabas considered a second missionary journey, “Barnabas wanted to take along John who was called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus” (Acts 15:37–39).

Years later, during his first Roman imprisonment, Paul wrote to the church at Colossae. In the closing lines of that epistle (Colossians 4:10-12), and also in the more personal letter addressed to Philemon, Paul made mention of a band of brothers who faithfully stood by his side. “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my coworkers” (Philemon 23–24).

Mark, the one that had once abandoned him, became his companion and co-worker. Later, in the last words penned by the Apostle, Paul wrote to Timothy. “Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Obviously, they had buried the hatchet. The old wound had healed, and a partnership had blossomed.

Jesus knew the sting of abandonment. After praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me – nevertheless, not me will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), Jesus was betrayed by Judas and abandoned, rejected, deserted by the other eleven. The disciples ran away, leaving their Master to face the executioner. He did so, alone.

Though Jesus was abandoned, He will never forsake His own. He promised, “I will never leave you or abandon you!” (Hebrews 13:5). “I will be with you… I will not leave you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5). “I will be with you always, to the end of the age”(Matthew 28:20). “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness of danger or sword? No…” (Romans 8:35). Jesus will never abandon His own!


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