Today we will continue our look at John Mark. I started this series on my last entry-so, if you have not read that, I would encourage you to do so. Let's talk about why John Mark left Paul and Barnabas about half-way through their first missions journey.
13 Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
Paul had trusted John Mark (JM) enough to take him on this important assignment from the Lord. Yet, about half-way through, JM decided to leave, and went to Jerusalem. We do not have the immediate reaction from Paul, but we know (from later in scripture) that Paul was very upset at JM. So, why would JM leave? There are 3 popular theories (and many other that are not so popular) as to why this happened.
1. JM simply decided that the work was not for him-so he decided to leave.
2. JM was offended that Paul was becoming the leader of the group, rather than his relative, Barnabas. If you remember, when the 3 men were in Antioch, God commissioned the two men-but Barnabas's name was used first. Perhaps JM thought that Barnabas would be the leader.
2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
If you read the account of their first journey in Acts 13, it becomes clear that Paul is the stronger leader-maybe JM didn't like this-so he left. Or, maybe it was:
3. JM became scared when the group came upon their first sign of spiritual resistance-so he left.
We do not know the reason that JM left-but to me, the third reason makes the most sense. Let's look at what happened that may have caused JM to abandon the group:
Acts 13: 6-12 (this entry is a bit longer, but important)
6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Now, imagine if you are JM-a younger Christian that has (no doubt) seen miracles-but perhaps JM has never really seen such spiritual resistance close up. Much like when Jesus has to cast demons out of people-those around what witnessed it sometimes got scared. Maybe JM just didn't know how to process what he observed-and became frightened. I believe this is the most likely scenario as to why JM left-and it also explains why (as JM matured) that he and Paul became reconciled. We will talk more about this in my next entry. God Bless.