Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever wished for a mulligan – a do-over? All of us have. We have known failure. We have suffered consequences for words we shouldn’t say or ideas we should have forgotten or deeds that have been hurtful.
The author of the first gospel could relate. A young man, full of promise and energy, was invited to join a mission team that included his uncle and the apostle Paul. Heady stuff. There is no record of speech in the book of Acts but his role may have been as scribe. Before Luke joined the team (Acts 16:10), young John Mark may have been responsible for writing down the details of their journey.
Then things went wrong. Perhaps he was just homesick. Perhaps he just wasn’t cut out for mission work like this. We are not told the exact reasons but the young man left the team and headed back to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13).
He left a mess behind. His uncle and the apostle would ultimately sever their partnership over the disagreement (Acts 15:37-39). Our mistakes can have a profound impact on others. Too often the consequences can be lingering or even permanent.
The biblical account doesn’t fill in the details but it was obvious that John Mark got the chance to start over. Later in Paul’s writing, we meet Mark again. In Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy, he is mentioned as being valued, even treasured.
Yes, we make mistakes. But do we have to let our mistakes define us? The best evidence we have that John Mark was restored you can hold in your hands and read with your eyes. Mark was the instrument through whom Peter speaks to us today. Much of Peter’s teaching and preaching, providing an eye-witness account of the life and mission of Christ, are found in the pages of Mark’s gospel.
We can overcome failure. We can learn from defeat. We can be shaped by the hard times of life to make us more fitting for what God wishes to do in and through us. Just ask John Mark.