Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…
“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.
Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:
It is easy for us to forget just how dangerous a man Paul (also known as Saul) was before his conversion. Prior to encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22), Paul was systematically hunting down Jesus’ followers to have them arrested (and perhaps even killed). Then, suddenly, Paul is changed. He claims to have encountered Jesus and wants to join with the other disciples. It is no wonder that the disciples were skeptical. Was this a new tactic Paul was going to use to trap all of Jesus’ disciples? How could he be trusted?
This is what we read about in today’s reading (Acts 9:26-31). It is Barnabas who steps into this difficult and dangerous situation. Barnabas places himself alongside Paul and discerns the dramatic change that has occurred. This son of encouragement (which is what the name “Barnabas” means) “takes charge” of the former persecutor. He listens to Paul’s story and witnesses the depth of change that God is bringing about in Paul. Barnabas takes Paul to the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He encourages them to trust the good work that God is doing in and through Paul. Barnabas accompanies Paul during his time in Jerusalem, encouraging him when his message about Jesus is resisted. Later, Barnabas goes on a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 13-15) and later begins his own ministry.
We all need someone like Barnabas in our life, to encourage and support us when life is challenging. We need a person who can guide and encourage all the good things we are capable of, even when no one believes in us.
Stay tuned for next week…
Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apostles up to 10:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how God’s word continues to grow. In an unexpected way, Holy Spirit is poured out upon people who are outside of God’s chosen people (Acts 10:25-48).
Parish Pastoral Leader