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Col 4:10-14; 2 Tim 4:9-16
Col. 4:10-14 Aristarchus,
my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas' cousin
Mark (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome
him);  and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow
workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision; and they
have proved to be an encouragement to me.  Epaphras, who is one of
your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always
laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and
fully assured in all the will of God.  For I bear him witness that
he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.
2 Tim. 4:9-16 Make
every effort to come to me soon;  for Demas, having loved this present
world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia,
Titus to Dalmatia.  Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him
with you, for he is useful to me for service.  But Tychicus I have
sent to Ephesus.  When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas
with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.  Alexander the
coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his
deeds.  Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed
our teaching.  At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted
me; may it not be counted against them.
On September 18, 1999 I sat
in seat 108 of row 2 in aisle 505 of Wrigley Field. It was a day to remember.
I've been to a few major league stadiums through the years, and I've got
to tell you, Wrigley is a different experience. First, there is absolutely
no parking. We parked close to a mile away and had to walk to the park.
Second, the stadium is old. I mean really old. Not rickety old, more like
historic old. Really, as I walked through the turnstile, I felt like I
was walking into Baseball's Cathedral. Third, Wrigley fans are, well-different.
It almost seemed like the baseball game was secondary.
Cubbies are among the most
faithful of any fans. It doesn't matter whether their team is winning or
losing, they support the team. After watching a game with them, I think
it is because they are not really there for the baseball-the beer maybe,
but not the game. By and large, people weren't paying much attention to
the game. That is, until Sammy Sosa came to the plate.
Vendors stopped selling their
goods. Everyone stood, everyone cheered and everyone's eyes were on the
field. The atmosphere was electric. Sosa didn't disappoint. He knocked
a home run over the fence. It wasn't just any home run, it was the 60th
of the season, making Sosa the first slugger to hit sixty or more home
runs in two consecutive seasons.
I don't remember who won
the game, but I do remember the ball barely clearing the center field fence
and Sosa's "home run hop" as he started running toward the record books
one more time.
Who would have ever thought
that less than a year later Sosa would be named in trade rumors? I guess
his skipper doesn't feel Sosa is hustling enough. His glove has never been
that great, but there was a time when Sosa worked harder around the base
In 1998, he was the National
League's Most Valuable Player, in 1999, he was the first person to hit
60 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons and in 2000, he may very well
be traded. I always thought Sammy Sosa would become Mr. Cubs like Ernie
Banks, but maybe not. How do you interpret Sosa's situation? Some may say,
it's a "what have you done for me lately" thing. Maybe so, but I think
there is another lesson here. No person is more important than the team.
(Fresh Illustrations http://www.Freshministry.org/illustrations.html
Whenever I read Paul's epistles,
I get the feel that he was a team player. He wasn't an apostolic superstar,
he was an individual that worked toward the good of the team. Sometimes
we read through his closing words of epistles quickly, like they don't
have any important information in them, but today, let's examine his closing
remarks in Colossians and in II Timothy.
Colossians was written about
AD 61 at the beginning of Paul's 2-year imprisonment that resulted from
his appeal to Caesar. Acts 28:30 says, "And
he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming
all who came to him," We
know that under Roman law, he would either be executed or set free in that
2 years. (ZPEB, p. 654) Since Luke didn't mention an execution, we deduce
that he was set free. Luke's record ends here, so we have no authoritative
word what happened next.
Church tradition says that
Paul, upon his release continued his missionary efforts, but was rearrested
in AD 67 and beheaded by Nero. Paul wrote his final epistle, 2 Timothy,
right before his execution. In 2 Tim. 4:6, he wrote, "For
I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure
Even a casual reader can
detect the differences in tone between Col. 4:10-14 and 2 Tim. 4:9-16.
In both passages, he mentions several people's names. His co-workers in
the faith. His teammates.
In the Colossians passage,
he applauds his teammates for their support. He names people by name who
were helpful to him. In the Timothy passage, as he neared the end, he mentioned
the faithfulness of Dr. Luke, but then called people by name who were not
team players and had abandoned him.
Paul was betrayed by Alexander
the coppersmith. I don't know what Alexander did to Paul, but in Paul's
estimation, it was "much harm." His blow was painful enough that Paul warned
the Church not to associate with him in the future.
Crescens and Titus went on
to other things. Paul doesn't seem to be angry about them leaving, but
he makes it clear that he is lonely. But Demas is another story. In Colossians,
Paul thought enough of Demas to include him among the fraternity of brothers
that greeted the church, but five years later, when he wrote 2 Timothy,
Demas was a Benedict Arnold. Paul said,"having
loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica."
It wasn't anything personal
with Demas, he deserted his post because of carnality. His faith eroded
and he became a deserter. That's why John warned the church
"Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him."
(1 John 2:15 NASB)
Alexander did Paul much harm,
Demas deserted him, but there is another name that appears in the Colossians
and Timothy passage that deserves attention today: Mark.
At one point, Paul didn't
want him around. Mark was traveling with Paul and his cousin Barnabas on
a missionary journey, but when the going got tough, he abandoned the missionaries. "Now
Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in
Pamphylia; and John left them and returned to Jerusalem."
(Acts 13:13 NASB) Later, he wanted to rejoin Paul & Barnabas, but Paul
wouldn't hear of it. In fact, the controversy forced a wedge between Paul
"And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us return and visit the
brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and
see how they are.'  And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called
Mark, along with them also.  But Paul kept insisting that they should
not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone
with them to the work.  And there arose such a sharp disagreement that
they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed
away to Cyprus.  But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed
by the brethren to the grace of the Lord." (Acts
By the time Paul wrote Colossians,
it appears that some mending was taking place. Mark was there, and Paul
instructed the church to welcome him if he comes to their congregation.
(Conflict is never in a vacuum, everyone is affected by it.) But by the
time he wrote 2 Timothy, Paul was asking for Mark to come to him. Paul
didn't ask for Barnabas, the encourager, but his cousin John Mark.
Not everyone can hit 60 home
runs in back to back seasons, but everyone can run out every ground ball.
It is the team record, not the individual achievement that counts. We're
all in this together.
In the end, after some had
betrayed him and others had deserted him and still others had just wandered
off, getting on with their lives, Paul longed for John Mark. Mark wasn't
a superstar, in fact he was a quitter that saw the error of his ways and
rededicated himself to do whatever he could for the team. He was lucky
to even be on the team, but he was Paul's choice for MVP.