Have You Messed Up? Here’s a Great Redemption Story!

Posted on September 3, 2019


By David Ettinger


You’re Not Alone
Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41), and you know exactly what He means. As a believer in Christ, you seek to serve your Lord passionately, but in one way or another – disobedience, neglect, blatant sin – you have bowed to the demands of your flesh rather than bowed your knee to the Holy Spirit. You went astray and feel terrible! But take solace, you’re not alone. Every Christian has “been there, done that,” including one of the Gospel writers!

The culprit is Mark – and his story of failure and redemption is one that can lift you out of your doldrums, or at least give you a shot of encouragement if that’s what you are in the market for.

About Mark
Mark is mentioned by name 10 times, the first in Acts 12:12: “… John, also called Mark.” His name is not John Mark; John is his Hebrew name, Mark is his Latin name. Mark was a Jewish Christian who lived in Jerusalem during the early years of the Church, and his home was a Christian meeting place (Acts 12:12). Many scholars believe the upper room of Mark’s home was the setting for the Last Supper.

Scholars also believe Mark was the man who fled naked after Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52). If this was the case, Mark was a close follower of Jesus and was with him almost to the end. Mark must have been quite the impressive young man, and it is little wonder Paul and Mark’s cousin Barnabas invited him to join them on their first missionary journey (Mark 12:25). What an honor!


Mark Blows It!
The island of Cyprus

The first leg of the missionary outreach on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:4-12) was a rousing success, and the team began the second leg of its journey in Perga. Everything seemed to be going well until we read: “From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem” (v. 13).

What in the world happened? Why would Mark desert his companions in what would turn out to be a history-altering excursion. Scripture is silent on the matter, but scholars advance several theories:

* Mark may have been stunned by the spiritual attack the team faced on Cyprus (vv. 6-12).
* Perga was subject to malarial outbreaks, and Mark feared catching the dreaded disease.
* Paul planned to preach in the city of Antioch, which required the team to traverse the dangerous route over the Taurus Mountains. Mark may not have been up to the challenge.
* Homesickness.

Regardless of the reason, Mark had a golden opportunity and turned his back on it. And Paul was fuming! Several years later, Paul and Barnabas decided to embark on a second missionary journey, and Barnabas wanted to take Mark along. This did not go over well with Paul, who “… did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work” (Acts 15:58).

Paul had lost faith in Mark, regarding him as unreliable and risky. He would not bend on his conviction that Mark was the wrong man. Barnabas, however, insisted on Mark so fervently that, “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (v. 59). Paul replaced Barnabas with Silas, and Barnabas set off to Cypress ­– with Cousin Mark at his side.

silver cross

Mark’s Redemption
We can only speculate on the level of remorse Mark felt following his desertion, and how grateful he was to be given a second chance. Scripture does not tell us about the Barnabas/Mark missionary journey, but there is ample evidence that it worked wonders for Mark.

The undertaking matured him, toughened him up spiritually, and made Mark a vessel God could use. And somewhere along the way, Mark – whom Paul once regarded as persona non grata – became of great value to Paul.

About seven years following Mark’s desertion, Mark joined Paul in Rome, where the latter was imprisoned, and served with him (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 23-24). Following Paul’s release, Mark remained in Rome and served with another giant of the faith, the Apostle Peter. In fact, so precious to Peter was Mark that the Apostle refers to him as “my son Mark” (1 Peter 5:13).

Peter was martyred at this time, but Mark continued serving God. During Paul’s second Roman imprisonment, he wrote to Timothy, who was in Ephesus, and ordered him to fetch Mark and come to Rome because Paul considered Mark “helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). What dramatic change in status!

And, of course, Mark went on to pen the account of Jesus’ life that is named after him.

book of mark

Mark and You
Mark blew it. He messed up bad. And so did you. God, however, was not through with Mark, and He is not through with you. Paul writes, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). God has no intention of giving up on You; He chose you, and He is going to use you to the end of your life.

Yet, you say, “But I have sinned badly.” Guess what? God still hasn’t given up on you. The Apostle John writes: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Mark is proof of this. He messed up bad, but he forged on, knew God was with him, and the Lord used him in a powerful way.

And if you are willing to accept God’s forgiveness and obey Him, He will do the same for you!