John Mark wrote the gospel of Mark, which tells us something that the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John don’t. Only in Mark are we told that there was a young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested. Since Mark included that information in his gospel without naming himself, we can deduce that the naked guy who fled was Mark.

We are introduced to Mark initially in the book of Acts as a coward. When things get tough, he runs. He is such a coward that even when people grab him and his clothes, he runs away, leaving his clothes behind. Years later, we are reintroduced to him in Acts 13:5, “When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.” Now he is called John. Sometimes he is called Mark, sometimes he is called John, but it is the same guy—John Mark.

Paul and Barnabas were going on a missionary journey. By the way, Barnabas and (John) Mark were cousins. They were going into dangerous territories, and if you were to read the rest of chapter 13, you would see the kind of danger they encountered. Paul and Barnabas leave, and Mark comes along as their helper. Just a few verses later, in Acts 13:13, we read, “John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem.” So fifteen years earlier Mark was a coward, who fled, leaving Jesus behind. Now, in a new endeavor with his cousin Barnabas and Paul, he quits again when things get tough. He was a coward before, and now he is also a quitter. These are setbacks, major setbacks in this young man’s life.

Yet, we read in 1 Peter 5:13, “So does my son Mark.” Ten years later, the apostle Peter considers Mark to be like a son to him. So something has happened. The coward and the quitter had quite a comeback. He is now seen by one of the great leaders of the early church as someone so valuable that he is like a son to him. In fact, the gospel of Mark, although written by Mark, is actually Peter’s eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. Peter spent three years with Jesus and then shared all his knowledge with Mark who wrote it as one of the gospels.

Then in Colossians 4:10, the same Paul who Mark quit on before lists several people as fellow workers with him, “And Mark, one of my fellow workers.” The guy who was a coward and a quitter is now considered to be a fellow worker with the apostle Paul. Finally, II Timothy 4:11 says, “Only Lucas stayed with me. Mark can be very helpful to me, so please bring him with you.” This man who was a coward and had a setback, was a quitter and had another setback, has now had such a comeback that the apostle Paul believes Mark could be very helpful and wants him brought to Paul.

What happened to this young man? How did he go from terrible setbacks to this marvelous comeback? There is no information in the Bible about how this happened, but here is what I glean from this story. Something changed in Mark so dramatically that he overcame these terrible setbacks. What could have destroyed a person—“I’m a coward. I walked out on Jesus. I’m such a quitter. I quit on Paul and Barnabas. I have failed, and I have fallen short in so many ways”—did not destroy Mark. He made an incredible comeback. Peter and Paul, the two great leaders of the early church, both believed he was a valuable person. No matter past mistakes, failures and setbacks you can be like Mark and make a comeback.


About Rick McDaniel

Rick McDaniel is a noted author, international communicator and church leader. He is the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is known for its contemporary and innovative services and has a worldwide reach through McDaniel has earned three degrees including an advanced degree from Duke University and is the author of​ six​​ books including his latest "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks." He has traveled and spoken at conferences and churches worldwide spanning six continents.

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