[CF Devotionals] 2011-01-18 - Barnabas

In this devotional, we will begin an occasional sub series on “minor” Bible characters. The word doesn’t imply a lack of importance; rather, it simply denotes that we don’t read a lot about the person in the Bible, or hear a lot about him/her in sermons etc.

First, we will look at one of the early members of the Christian church. His name was Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.” And we will learn why he personified his name, and why we should try to “be a Barnabas,” too.

After the Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples. Afraid of Paul because of his earlier persecution of the church, the disciples were reluctant to meet with him. Barnabas brought Paul to the disciples, and told them of Paul’s encounter with Jesus. With Barnabas’ encouragement, the disciples accepted Paul into their fellowship:

Acts 9:26-28 (NIV) When he (Paul / Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples. But they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul, on his journey, had seen the Lord, and that the Lord had spoken to Him, and how in Damascus, he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them, and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

Barnabas and Paul went on to start several churches and spread the Gospel, on missionary journeys in Asia Minor. During one of these evangelism trips, a fellow disciple named John Mark left early, to return to Jerusalem. John Mark’s departure disappoints Paul so much that he refused to allow John Mark to accompany him on a later missionary trip. Barnabas, however, supported John Mark and parted company with Paul. Barnabas is not mentioned again in the Acts. What became of Barnabas? Was he a failure?

Let’s see. Barnabas took John Mark into his home and encouraged and trained him. John Mark resumed his work in the Jerusalem church. With Barnabas’ encouragement, John Mark returned to work beside Paul. He later assisted the Apostle Peter in Rome. John Mark subsequently went on to write what is now known as the Gospel of Mark. Without Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, we might not have the Gospel of Mark. Barnabas was constantly encouraging others—the apostles, the young believers, Paul, and finally John Mark. Time and again, he lived up to his name, “Son of Encouragement.”

Who are you encouraging today? How can you do your part to help encourage others? To whom can you be a Barnabas today?

Richard

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