Acts 15:37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.
Barnabas, the people person, the encourager wanted to give John Mark another chance but Paul had not got over the fact that John Mark had quit on them in an earlier missionary journey, leaving them and going back home. There are so many ways this story can be approached from but let’s look at this side of the story: what if Paul had extended to John Mark the same mercy and grace that had been given to him. Maybe John Mark had got ahead of the Holy Spirit in his zeal to do something for Jesus and he wasn’t mature enough to fight the demonic encounters that an early missionary would fight.
The scriptures does not give indication why John Mark left them. Could it have been a family matter? A job situation? A death? Or just because he was scared? We don’t know, we can only speculate but the fact was they were on a missionary assignment and John Mark left them and went home. Could Paul have been holding a grudge? Could Paul have been holding some unforgiveness? Once again scripture does not tell us, so we can only speculate but it would not be based on facts.
This is a major disagreement between two of the early leaders of the early church proving to us that disputes, misunderstandings, and disagreements are part of ministry. It’s how we resolve the issues that is important. Ephesians says, neither give place to the devil.
39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord's gracious care. 41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.
Undoubtedly this disagreement got a little heated to the point that leaders had to go their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed off for Cyprus and Paul got another missionary partner named Silas and took off to Syria and Cilicia. Both of these teams went on to do great work for the Kingdom but without a doubt this disagreement left a mark on the early church, causing division. The text omits two factors many find crucial in avoiding or minimizing conflict. First, prayer: there is no evidence that Barnabas and Paul prayed – and Acts abounds with prayer examples (see 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 9:11). Anytime there is disagreement there should be a season of prayer. Second, a mediator or peacemaker is absent. It appears Barnabas and Paul decided to argue first and talk later—something typical of people throughout the ages. That is never acceptable among the children of God, we are called to be peacemakers.
Who was right, who was wrong? That’s an easy question, both men were right and both men were wrong and Father God still loved them both. This dispute was not over doctrinal issues but rather a judgment call. To their credit, this dispute did not detour them in their pursuit of building the Kingdom. They realized the truth of the fact, that this was a personal issue they had to get over and they did.
Read this carefully, over the long haul, the decision of Barnabas may have proved best – at least for John Mark. Years later, Paul finds the formerly useless Mark “useful,” as revealed in the apostle’s concluding epistle. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering” (2 Tim. 4:11). And in Colossians 4:10, one observes that the once-rejected young worker was commended, and the Colossian saints were asked to be receptive to him. What am I saying? Never Never Give Up On Anyone! You never know whom the Holy Spirit will use in your future to help you. The one Paul refused to take with him, is one of the one he would later request. I’m thankful God isn’t through with any of us, so we need to exercise the same amount of grace and patience we desire Father God to show to us. I’ve learned this: I can be 100% right in facts but 100% wrong in attitude.
Prayer Points: Pray, when I’m in a disagreement with some-one, help me to see the scene as you see it. Don’t let me be close minded or stubborn, but help me to see truth and walk in the truth.