And John Left Them
Today’s reading: Job 31-32; Acts 13:1-23
23 For I was in terror of calamity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty. Job 31:23
13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. Acts 13:13-14
The faithful disciple of Christ is motivated by both fear of God and a desire to glorify Him. If these motivations weaken, one is likely to be tempted to stop following the Lord.
Job recited his claims to a righteous life. He lists many sins both personal and social. He calls on God to punish him for any failures in these matters. In other words, he swears before God that he is innocent. What motivated him to live such an upright life? He was terrified of what God might do to him, and he thought of the majesty of God and what it would be like to be in His glorious presence. Job still has much to learn about God, but on this point he is right. We ought to have a proper fear of God and a longing to stand before His majesty accepted and welcomed.
When Saul (now Paul) and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit and the church in Antioch as missionaries they invited along John, also called Mark or John Mark, to assist them. John saw how God had led in the decision to send these men out to preach. John had been on Cyprus when Paul confronted an evil magician named Elymas and God had struck the man blind. John had been there when the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, had sought to hear the word of God and had been transformed by it. But for reasons unreported here, John decided to leave Paul and Barnabas and return to Jerusalem.
Why did he do this? We are not told, but certainly Paul and Barnabas must have known something about John’s decision making process. The two missionaries later disagreed so sharply about taking John on another missionary journey that they parted ways (Acts 15:37-39) . John had failed them. Barnabas, known for compassion, wanted to restore John. Paul did not. John may have demonstrated a lack of fear of God or passion to glorify Him. There was no doubt about his failure to follow through. The question was whether or not to give him a second chance.
Let the service to which God has called you be done faithfully, in the fear of the Lord and with a desire to please and glorify Him. Don’t walk away, like John. Think of His majesty. It motivated Job. You will not perform perfectly, but in the final analysis you will stand before God’s majesty accepted, not for your performance, but for Christ’s on your behalf.