The wave of persecution came crashing into the shores of the church at Jerusalem.  The last few hours and days had seen a landslide of affliction and affirmation sweep into the Lord’s church at Jerusalem; though the church was no stranger to persecution, this kind provoked God’s people to assemble and to pray.  With the martyrdom of their Pastor James and now with one of their key leaders Peter being in prison, surely death was coming, and uncertainty was brewing; but yet God’s people prayed.

Little did the church know that night that God was not only at work in setting Peter free but was also at work in a young man’s life among them whose name was John. Scripture records that the believers were meeting in John’s mother’s house for prayer in Acts 12:5.  God not only shook the shackles off Peter that night but also shook John’s heart about getting more involved with the gospel work.  Acts 12:25 records that John determines to now go on a church planting mission trip with Paul and Barnabas.  Oh, the excitement of a mission trip!  Have you ever been on a mission trip? If not, create the time to go on one!   As John’s story progresses, we find him now on the mission field in Acts 13, but the romanticized dream of mission work was not met with the realistic demons of the mission field.  One of John’s first encounters on the mission field is with a sorcerer, not what John expected.  I can almost hear John’s mind screaming within himself, “This isn’t what I signed up for?! I thought this would be like a vacation?! I thought everybody loved missionaries?!”  It was not long before Scripture records in Acts 13:13 that John quit the mission field and went back home.  The excitement had worn off, and reality had set in; therefore, John quit.  His faith had now been overcome with fear; John’s courage was now suppressed by conveniences of home.

Unfortunately, Paul allowed himself to think that since John had failed, it made him a failure.  We really see this come to light in Acts 15:36-39 when Paul is not willing to even give him a second chance.  Paul battled his flesh too, and we really see it manifesting itself when he was so convinced that John was nothing more than a failure.  Thank God for Barnabas, who determined to help a brother out who had failed!  We understand from our text that Barnabas was willing to give a second chance, but did Paul ever come around?

Amazingly enough, many years later Paul writes these words to his young preacher in 2 Timothy 4:11: “…Take Mark, (John Mark) and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” WOW!  Did you read that?!  This is a complete 180 degree turn in Paul’s life!  Paul says, “I want John! John is useable!  I was wrong!”  Simply put, this is what God’s grace had done in Paul’s life:

  1. Nobody has ever lived who has not failed at something.
  2. Failure is a part of our journey of grace.
  3. Failing does not make you a failure;it makes you human.
  4. It is not about how or how many times you fall; it is about how you get back up.

Today I am thankful that John got back up, and just as equally thankful that Paul was willing to let God continue to develop himself throughout his life.  Today, if you have failed, get back up.  Today, how do you treat those in the circle of your life that have failed?