Marcus and Demas
MARCUS: He Followed, Fled, and Returned
A. Review of John Mark
1. He was a Jew (of the circumcision – vs. 11)
2. He was from Jerusalem.
a. John was his Jewish name.
b. Marcus was his Roman or Latin name.
c. Sometimes he is called John (Acts 13:5) and sometimes he is called Mark (Acts 15:37; II Tim. 4).
3. His mother Mary opened her home for prayer meetings (Acts 12:12).
a. The church in Jerusalem became very large overnight and the church met in various homes on occasion.
b. We know nothing of his father. He may have been dead or an unbeliever.
c. If he was saved and alive, one would think Luke would referred to it as HIS house, not Mary’s.
d. Mary did her best to bring up her young son John Mark in the things of God—and to encourage him to believe on Christ and be saved.
e. She held prayer meetings in her home and made sure her son John Mark attended.
4. I Peter 5:13 implies that Peter led John Mark to faith in Christ.
a. It was at Mary’s house where the prayer meeting was held as they prayed for Peter to be released from prison—and he WAS released.
b. It is quite possible that at that occasion Peter led Mary’s son John Mark to faith in Christ.
c. He certainly had good reason to believe God after that prayer meeting!
d. Perhaps Mary—a believer in Christ—MADE her son come to prayer meeting. As an unsaved young man, it might have seemed quite boring to him… not much interest in praying.
e. However, over time God gave this young man a stupendous, undeniable example of answered prayer!
f. When Peter came into his home that night—I’m sure he gave one inspiring testimony as to what God had done for him.
• John Mark MUST have been impressed with Peter’s faith and courage.
• Peter believed the gospel so deeply that he was willing to suffer and be beaten and imprisoned in order to preach Christ. That’s impressive.
• And his testimony of how God released him must have made an indelible impression on John Mark’s mind and heart.
g. That may well have been the night Peter led John Mark to Christ… for Peter calls Marcus his “son” in the faith.
h. It IS a good idea for parents to bring their children to prayer meeting—even if they do think it’s a bit boring. Even if they would rather stay home and play Nintendo.
i. It may be just the thing God uses to lead them to saving faith Christ.
j. Don’t let the kids rule the roost. It’s up to Christian parents to set the tone and the example.
k. I know prayer meeting is on a school night. But I’m convinced (through years of observation) that kids who come to prayer meeting faithfully still do well in school.
l. And even if they stay up an extra 45 minutes on prayer meeting night—the Lord is able to give them that extra oomph they need for Thursday morning.
m. God honors those who honor Him.
n. Some wonderful spiritual testimonies and times of rejoicing and fellowship occur during prayer meeting that are priceless…
o. That’s not to mention the nearly 400 lessons on Proverbs they could be getting as well… divine wisdom recorded for the young and inexperienced to gain discernment, understanding, and insight.
p. Prayer meeting was good for John Mark. It would be good for your family too!
5. Acts 13:1-3 – Later John Mark went with the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey. (vs. 5 – John = John Mark)
a. John Mark went along with Paul and Barnabas on this journey.
b. Remember, John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas—which probably influenced the decision to take him along.
c. He went as their “minister” = A subordinate, servant, attendant, associate in any work.
d. Evidently, John Mark was given duties to perform for the seasoned preachers, Paul and Barnabas. He may well have been responsible for supplies, food, setting up tents, etc.
e. It must have been rigorous work too… travel was not easy in those days. They did not traverse the country in an air conditioned Winnebago.
f. It involved a lot of walking; hiking; carrying heavy loads; in the elements; hot; sweaty; dirty; hungry; thirsty; etc.
g. There was much opposition everywhere they went. The gospel is a hated message. The Savior we proclaim was hated and crucified.
h. John Mark experienced much of this opposition as he traveled with Paul and Barnabas.
6. Acts 13:13 – Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark came to Perga in Pamphilia…
a. At that point in the missionary journey, John Mark QUIT.
b. We are not told WHY… we are just told that he returned home to Jerusalem.
c. He didn’t want to travel with the missionaries any more.
d. This happens often among missionaries.
• Becoming a missionary sounds exciting!
• Traveling to exotic locations around the globe…
• Grandiose ambitions of establishing a flourishing church in a foreign land…
• Young people read missionary stories of missionaries who led thousands to Christ… whole tribes who come to faith in Christ…
• It can sound quite attractive… idealistic… fascinating… thrilling…
• And folks who go on a two week missionary trip might experience a bit of that thrill… (seeing dozens of cute little Indian kids or Zambian children run up to you… ministering in their midst…) Even sleeping on the floor in a grass hut is different and exciting.
• But we get to come home after a couple of weeks.
• But real missionaries—those called of God—stay there… for the rest of their lives.
• If you have NOT been called to serve as a missionary, the novelty wears off in a hurry.
• Living in difficult, hot, dirty locations with lousy food… riddled with disease… unsanitary conditions… and no relief in sight—that can get to you after a while.
• Many mission boards have to deal with missionaries who return home after their first term…
• Some went because of an emotional appeal or a guilt trip imposed by a well meaning but misguided pastor or a visiting missionary.
• Missionaries come home because they didn’t really count the cost before they left… or God never called them to leave in the first place.
• They return home discouraged, defeated, dejected, and feeling like a traitor.
e. We don’t know the REASONS why John Mark returned home… all we know is the FACT that he left on a long missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas… and mid stream left the team and went home. He quit.
• It could have been more difficult than he expected.
• It could have been that he discovered he just wasn’t cut-out for that kind of lifestyle.
• Perhaps he discovered that it was more dangerous than he had expected.
• It could have been he was too immature as a believer to handle the trials and opposition along the way.
• It could have been that he left on impulse and emotion… rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit.
• Cf. Acts 13:3 – the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas.
• Vs. 5 says nothing about the Holy Spirit calling John Mark.
f. We just don’t know exactly WHY he left.
• But when he came to Perga, he went home.
• And that meant that all the work he HAD been doing for Paul and Barnabas would no longer get done.
• That meant a great imposition on Paul and Barnabas.
• They would have to take care of all those chores and duties.
• That meant that the work itself would be slower… hindered… stalled… perhaps some projects would never get finished as a result.
• Paul was a man who was DRIVEN by his work… and the fact that Mark quit in the midst of the work was a hard pill for him to swallow.
• He saw it from a very different perspective than Uncle Barnabas did.
B. The Rift
1. Acts 15:36 – Paul and Barnabas plan the second missionary journey.
a. Evidently, John Mark had had a change of heart in between these two missionary journeys.
b. He wanted to return to the work of the Lord and minister unto Paul and Barnabas as he did before.
c. No doubt he apologized for any inconvenience he was to them before… and tried to convince them that things would be different now. He had matured. He had grown in the Lord. He was dedicated to the work now. He would not depart any more.
2. Vs. 37 – Barnabas determined to take John Mark with them on the journey (his nephew).
a. Barnabas was “determined” to do so. [determine: resolve, determine, purpose after deliberation] Barnabas had his mind made up to take his nephew.
b. The name “Barnabas” means son of consolation.
c. He was true to his name. He was a comforter; an encourager; one who tried to lift the spirits of others.
d. His nephew had failed on the first missionary journey but now he wanted to return to the work.
e. Uncle Barnabas—the consoler—the comforter—wanted to encourage his nephew to do just that: get back to the work.
f. Barnabas was DETERMINED to take him back and give him a second chance.
3. Acts 15:38 – Paul thought it not good to take John Mark.
a. The REASON: Mark departed from them on the last trip.
• ἀφίστημι – withdraw, remove oneself, forsake, desert, retire, cease from something.
• This is a stronger term than is used in Acts 13:13 – ? ἀποχωρέω – to go from; to depart;
”John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem.”
• ἀφίστημι – Used in Heb.3:12 – lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief… in departing from the living God.
• It is also used in I Tim.4:1 – in the latter times some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits.
b. The term does not mean that Paul felt that John Mark was an unbelieving apostate who departed from the faith and denied Christ.
• But it IS a stronger term.
• Evidently the apostle Paul saw Mark’s departure as much more serious a matter than Uncle Barnabas did.
• Perhaps Paul had in mind the words of the Lord Jesus in giving qualifications for disciples: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
• “He went not with them to the work.” (15:38c)
• There was work to do and Mark left. He left the work for the others to do while he departed to his comfortable home in Jerusalem.
• Paul saw John Mark as derelict in his duties.
• As far as Paul was concerned he abandoned the work of the Lord.
• Paul saw John Mark as a soldier who in the middle of a campaign went AWOL—a deserter.
• Paul saw the work of the Lord as too serious to take a chance on this young man again.
4. Here we see a serious rift among the missionaries.
a. Barnabas was DETERMINED to take John Mark.
b. Paul saw him as a deserter and refused to have him come.
c. The contention was SHARP between Paul and Barnabas over this issue.
• Contention: stirring up of anger, sharp contention, angry dispute.
• Paul and Barnabas split company over this matter.
d. Who was right and who was wrong in this matter? Paul or Barnabas?
• I don’t think either of them was right or wrong.
• They just looked at the matter from a different angle.
• Barnabas had a good point: If the young man repented and wanted to serve the Lord again, it is good to give him a second chance… encourage him in the things of the Lord. (Gal. 6:12 – restore such an one in the spirit of meekness!)
• Paul also had a good point: if he failed once, he could fail again. He probably wasn’t the very best candidate for the job. Paul thought it risky to take along a proven failure. Be wise as a serpent!
• Barnabas looked at it from a “people perspective” and Paul looked at it from the perspective of the work of God and the souls of men being at stake.
• This is a good reminder to us all: good men with good intentions often DIFFER… and sometimes sharply!
• And their difference—right or wrong—wasn’t the end of the world. God USED it.
• Instead of ONE missionary team, it resulted in TWO missionary teams.
• God can bring good even out of nasty disputes and separation!
• Paul went on to preach Christ with Silas and Barnabas went on to preach Christ with John Mark… and more people came to know the Lord!
• God can STILL bring good out of disputes and arguments among believers today. He is still God!
C. The Restoration
1. John Mark’s life ought to be an encouragement to us all.
a. He failed (like we do).
b. But he repented and returned to the work of the Lord and God used him greatly!
2. Even when he determined to return to the work of the Lord, he was hindered by Paul.
a. That must have been a great discouragement to him… what a blow that must have been!
b. But he didn’t let that get him down either.
3. John Mark returned to the work and PROVED himself to be a faithful servant of God.
a. Over time even Paul saw the value of this young man in the work of God.
b. Later Paul commends Mark in Philemon 24 – his fellow laborer.
4. An in Col. 4:10, Paul commands the Colossian believers to RECEIVE John Mark!
a. Don’t be afraid to receive him—as Paul had been.
b. It is likely that the rift between Paul and Barnabas was well known in Christian circles… and in Colossae.
c. Paul wanted everyone to know that reconciliation had occurred… and that Paul felt John Mark was now worthy of being received.
5. As a young man, John Mark fell and failed… but he later grew up and matured and became a useful servant of the Lord.
6. Have you fallen and failed?
a. Learn a lesson from John Mark.
b. If you have fallen—get back up and get back to the work of the Lord.
c. Don’t sit around licking your wounds and feeling sorry for yourself. You’re wasting God’s time! Redeem the time!
d. God is in the business of restoring souls and servants.
e. Prov. 24:16 – Righteous men fall… maybe even seven times! But they keep on getting up again.
f. Psa. 37:23-24 – a good man may fall, but will NOT be utterly cast down. The Lord will hold him up.
g. When we try to get back up there will be some (who with good intentions) try to console and encourage us like Barnabas.
h. There may be others (with good intentions) who may be a bit skeptical as to whether we are ready to return to the work.
i. Be like John Mark. He returned to serve where he could… where he was received… and PROVED himself faithful… and God honored him for that.
j. And even Paul—the one who was skeptical at first—later on had to acknowledge the wonderful work that God did in his heart.
k. Even Paul learned to see him as a valuable servant of the Lord…
l. “Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).
m. The disappointment, distrust, hurt, and resentment over Mark’s departure was completely restored and the wound was healed. Relationships CAN be healed!!!
n. Men, women, and children who fail can repent and return to the Lord and be used of the Lord again.
• God wasn’t finished with Abram when he went down to Egypt.
• God wasn’t done with Moses when he smashed the tablets in anger.
• God wasn’t finished with David when he committed adultery.
• God wasn’t done with Peter when he spoke out of turn… again and again…
• Virtually every hero of the faith also has mentioned in the Scriptures some of their failures too.
• God doesn’t cast them away because they failed… nor does he cast us away when we fall.
• The good Shepherd RESTORES our souls and leads us to green pastures… that we might be strengthened and return to the work he has called us to do!
o. God sure had a great work for John Mark to do.
• He is the man who later was used of the Lord to write the gospel of Mark.
DEMAS: He Followed and Fled (Col. 4:14)
1. Demas is mentioned here as one of Paul’s friends and a faithful servant of God.
2. In one of the letters Tychicus was delivering to Paul’s friend Philemon he mentions Demas again—(vs. 24 – as one of Paul’s fellow laborers.)
3. We don’t know for how long and in how many different places Demas served the Lord with Paul… but we do know that he was a trusted friend of Paul at this time.
a. And Paul was a diligent and careful planner.
b. When he chose men to serve with him—he was a bit picky.
c. He didn’t want just anyone… he wanted men who were faithful… dedicated… godly… who loved the Lord and put Christ first.
d. No doubt he interviewed and grilled men on doctrine before they were accepted to serve with him.
e. Demas no doubt went through an extensive screening process before Paul would take him on as a fellow laborer.
f. And evidently, at that time, he was approved and passed the test! Paul was impressed and pleased with Demas early on.
4. We have one more mention of this man Demas in Paul’s final epistle. (II Tim. 4:10)
a. What a different picture we have of Demas in this verse!
b. Years later, Demas did something similar to what John Mark did. He departed from the work of the Lord.
c. He departed because he loved the present world system.
d. Not all who start well, end well.
e. It must have broken Paul’s heart to have to write these words about his friend and former fellow worker, Demas.
f. Evidently Demas had a colossal internal, spiritual struggle taking place.
• On the one hand, he saw Paul and other believers suffering in a dingy prison for their faith in Christ… perhaps facing a death sentence.
• On the other hand, there in the bustling city of Rome, the capital of the world, he saw the lights that dazzle… the tempting sounds he heard… there was the glitter of fashion… the gorgeous gardens and the magnificent halls and palaces of the Caesars.
• In Rome, he had access to the plays, the music halls, the night life, the women, the carnivals and the countless distractions and festivities of that outstanding city.
• Over time, it got to him. He caved in to the pressure and the allurements of the world.
g. II Tim. 4:10 – World: aiwn – the age – the spirit of the age – the philosophy of the world: you only go around once—grab for all the gusto you can! Live it up! Live for today!
h. Demas didn’t want to live the crucified life any more. He wanted to live it up.
i. He became enamored by the world and the things of the world: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life! (I John 2:15-16)
j. Many a believer who started off well has been HOOKED by the same enticements of the world’s pleasure that hooked Demas.
k. As a result, Demas FORSOOK Paul…
• This is the same word as used in Heb.10:25 – forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.
• He left Paul and the work of the Lord just like John Mark did… though for a different reason.
• This must have been extremely painful to the apostle.
• It is always painful when folks we come to know and love in the Lord DEPART… and return to the world.
• Unfortunately, in the Lord’s work, it happens all the time.
• And in our age, we should expect it more and more.
• Cf. II Tim.3:1, 2, 4 – lovers of themselves (vs. 2), traitors to the cause of Christ (vs. 4a)… lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (vs. 4).
• Note that Paul does not say they have NO love for God. They love God—but they love the world and its pleasures more.
• That is a debilitating BLIGHT upon the church of Jesus Christ in our age.
• The work of God SUFFERS as a result.
• It’s hard to find qualified folks to serve in the local church and COMMIT to being a Sunday school teacher, choir member, or any other ministry… much less a missionary… when they are MORE committed to personal pleasure.
• Demas looked at where Paul’s faithfulness landed him (in a dingy prison cell)… and then he looked at all the pleasures available in Rome—and chose to place his love on the world rather than on Christ and His ministry.
• He made his choice.
• In the earthly here and now—it seemed reasonable.
• At the Bema Seat of Christ he will see how foolish his worldly decisions were in light of eternity… what a waste of God’s time to pursue the trinkets and pleasures of the world that last but a moment… and loss of rewards forever.
• Paul knew the eternal consequences of the poor choices Demas made and it broke his heart.
• For the believer, it is suffering in this life… sacrifice in this life… the crucified life now… and the crown in glory!
• “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my (earthly) trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown!”
• Demas was unwilling to lay down the trophies of this life. He was unwilling to pick up a cross to follow Christ. He had his fun in this life. He will miss out on his crown forever and ever.
• Oh, he’ll make it to heaven… but with precious little fruit… no crown to cast at the feet of the Lord Jesus in worship… no “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”
l. With no more information than that, one might wonder about whether Demas was a believer at all.
• Was he like Judas? A false disciple who pretended to walk the walk for a while and then quit because he was not a genuine believer?
• Was he like the folks John describes in I John 2:19?
• Was he like the seed that landed on rocky soil… sprout up… and then dried up.
• Did he depart from Paul and the Lord because he was never truly born again?
• The only information we have is that he followed for a while and departed.
• That’s exactly what we are told of John Mark too.
• I’m inclined to believe that he was a true believer… but a carnal, worldly believer who lived for himself rather than for the Lord.
5. But we don’t have the final chapter on Demas.
a. With the scant information we have, it’s impossible to know for sure where he stood with the Lord. (True believer or imposter)
b. There are lots of men and women like Demas—who started out well… and then departed.
c. Where they stand with the Lord we may never know. Only the Lord knows that.
d. Because we don’t know about so many folks “Demas” like followers today, we should believe the best and keep on praying for them!
6. God may have had a wonderful final chapter for the life of Demas too…
a. If all we knew about John Mark was the information up to Acts 13, we might wonder the same thing about him.
b. God gave us more info about John… but not about Demas.
c. Perhaps Demas too repented…
• Maybe he got sick of the empty chaff the world had to offer… and returned to fellowship with His heavenly Father like the prodigal son!
d. We just don’t know.
e. We have to leave Demas in the hands of the Lord. He knows all things… He doeth all things well. He never makes a mistake… never misjudges a heart.
f. There are lots of men and women who started off like John Mark and like Demas. They started off well… and then they returned to the world.
g. We ought to PRAY for folks like Demas.
h. We also ought to help encourage and restore folks like John Mark.
i. Maybe you ARE a John-Mark or a Demas and have departed from the Lord.
• There is no time like the present to repent of your sin—see the error of your ways—the wasted years away from Christ –
• Return to fellowship with Christ and His Body, the local church and bear fruit once again!
• Just like the father in the story of the prodigal son, your Heavenly Father is waiting for you to return… to receive you with open arms upon repentance.
• What are you waiting for?
• So you’ve wasted time on worldly pleasures and pursuits.
• Use what time you have left for the service of Christ… if you’ve forsaken the assembling of yourselves in the local church—be like John Mark.
• God may have a wonderful ministry for you as He had for John Mark!
j. God is still in the business of restoring souls… and drawing wanderers back to Himself… and transforming them into useful servants for His glory!