“Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
II Timothy 4:11
The great apostle Paul was near the end of his earthly journey. He was writing to Timothy from the Roman prison. Soon he would be executed and taken to his heavenly reward. Paul instructed Timothy to come to Rome as soon as possible and to bring Mark with him, “for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
We remember well how it was that Mark and Paul had been parted. Mark was included in the number that traveled with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey out of Antioch. However, after only reaching Perga in Pamphylia, John Mark departed and returned to Jerusalem. When Paul and Barnabas were planning their second journey, Barnabas was in favor of including Mark again but Paul refused because Mark had not continued with them previously. Paul and Barnabas could not reach an agreement and parted company themselves; Paul traveling with Silas, and Barnabas accompanied by Mark.
Now, near the end of his life, Paul insists on Mark being brought to him. We cannot be certain of all that God would have us to learn from these important details, but let’s consider a couple of possibilities. For one thing, though Mark had abandoned the ministry for a time, he apparently had returned to a place of service and was now available and profitable. As we know, God eventually used Mark to pen the Gospel of Mark. This is a great testimony to the fact that God can restore and use those who have had a failure in ministry. Making a mistake or failing in an assignment does not permanently disqualify one from future service or ministry. Obviously, it is better if we never leave God’s will, but thanks be to God, He gives us grace and mercy to be forgiven and restored.
There is another thing included in Paul’s request for Mark to be brought to him. Paul was willing to be reconciled to Mark and give him another opportunity to serve. This is a great lesson for us all. Forgiveness and reconciliation are needed among fellow Christians and servants. We should not allow past grievances to become permanent grudges or occasions for bitterness. If God is willing to forgive us, we should certainly be willing to forgive each other. What a blessing to see that Mark could now be profitable to Paul in the final days of Paul’s life.