The Word for today:
Mark went A.W.O.L. So Paul benched him.
Mark had been taken along as an assistant by Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey. However, for unknown reasons, he left them to return to Jerusalem before the trip was completed:
Now Paul and those with him left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:13; see also 12:25 and 13:4-5)
So when Barnabas wanted to take him along on the second trip, Paul flatly refused. The sharp disagreement that resulted broke the team apart: Barnabas took Mark, Paul chose Silas–and they went their separate ways (Acts 15:36-41).
Later, however, Paul and Mark reconciled. In Colossians, Paul will refer to Mark as a co-worker (Col. 4:10). At the very end of his life, while imprisoned in Rome, Paul will write a heartfelt request, asking Timothy to bring Mark with him, for he thought Mark would be helpful to him in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:11).
Mark also assisted Peter as a missionary in Italy. Many biblical scholars believe that it was from Peter that Mark got the information for his gospel. Generally considered to be the earliest gospel, the book of Mark was probably a helpful source of material for Matthew and Luke as they wrote their own gospels. Thus, Mark is one of the most influential of all biblical authors.
Like the prophet Jonah, who fled to the west when God wanted him to head east, Mark’s story reminds us that though God might bench us, he doesn’t kick us off the team. We might have to cool our heels for a season, for a reason, but God’s looking to get us back in the game.