Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia. On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services. After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.” (Acts of the Apostles 13:13-15 NLT)
After evangelizing the island of Cypus, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark left from Paphos (Western port of Cyprus) to go north into the land of Asia Minor (today called Turkey). They sailed to Pamphylia (Southern Roman province in Asia Minor). They, then traveled by boat up river to Perga (a port town). John Mark parted from them and returned to Jerusalem. The exact reason is unknown but it appears that it was an illegitimate reason because this causes a major conflict between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41. John Mark was a young man, it appears. He was under the mentorship of these brethren. The task of traveling like these men were was quite demanding. It is possible that John Mark was overwhelmed by the circumstances and decided to go back home. Sometimes we, too, have people forsake us. It can be very disappointing and cause a lack of trust. Those of us who ascribe ourselves as followers of Jesus must count the cost of following Him completely. Sometimes the journey gets rough. When things are rough and we don't understand the choices of others, we must stay focused and finish the task God has given us. The beauty of it all is when God graciously restores those broken relationships and, once again, we are reunited in service to Jesus with those who may have abandoned us earlier in ministry. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul instructs Timothy to bring Mark with him when he comes to join him. By that time, years had passed and Paul may have seen a maturity in John Mark that had developed over that time. Perhaps Paul realized he was too harsh on John Mark. Either way, restoration of relationship had occurred. What a beautiful thing to watch God soften our hearts and work in our lives in such a manner as to see broken relationships healed by His loving grace.
Paul and Barnabas traveled on to Antioch of Pisidia (a city in that region). When they arrived, they sought out the Jewish synagogue. They attended the sabbath service. This was on Saturday. The true Jewish sabbath is from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. While they attended, the leaders asked if they had something to share. A wide open door was made to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. With no hesitation, Paul stood to preach. We'll examine more on that tomorrow.
Rev. Curtis Norris