Summary: Learn from Barnabas. Know the power of encouragement and believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in changing lives. Don’t just look at who a person is, but who he can become in Christ.
Paul wanted to go on a second missionary journey, to return the churches they had visited on the first journey.
• He shared the plan with Barnabas, who suggested taking John Mark with them again, and a quarrel broke out.
• Mark had travelled with them on the first journey (Acts 13:5 ‘as their helper’), but did not complete the journey with them; he left them halfway.
• Acts 13:13 “From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.”
Why did he left? We do not know. It could be because of the tiring journey, the many sacrifices he had to make in travelling from one place to another, and being their helper, or simply for a lack of commitment.
• Whatever the reason, it wasn’t good. Paul did not take it well. To him, Mark has failed them, and probably, failed God in making such a desertion.
• Paul was a tough and determined man - remember because he was converted, he was out beatings up and killing followers of Christ – and he has little sympathy for such weaknesses.
• Paul was not willing to let this failure follow them again on a second journey.
Barnabas was however, determined to take Mark on this second journey, and give him a second chance.
• We thank God for people like Barnabas. No wonder the early church called him, “son of encouragement”!
• Acts 4:36 “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)...”
In fact, he was the one who encouraged Paul when he first came.
• Acts 9:26-27 “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But 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.”
• It was Barnabas who stood by Saul when the church doubted him.
• We see here an older brother, with more experience of life, helping the younger ones adapt and learn, and grow in their faith and ministry - first with Saul, and now with John Mark.
That’s the wisdom of Barnabas – he saw the potential in a person. That’s what God sees in us, and that’s what we must see in each other.
• Barnabas took Mark and mentored him in their second mission work together. It takes faith and a willingness to say “I believe in you!”
What happened to Mark subsequently?
• We have no news of him until more than a decade later, when Paul mentioned him in Col 4:10 “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)”
• Again in 2 Tim 4:11 near the end of Paul’s life: “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
Mark has changed, quite remarkable, because a Barnabas believed in him. Someone did not write him off when he failed.
• How do you feel if you failed and you are written off for good? Barnabas made that different in his cousin Mark.
• Change can come, and it comes through encouragement.
(1) KNOW THE POWER OF ENCOURAGEMENT IN CHANGING LIVES
Think for a moment:
• When children make those first attempts at walking, what do they need? Encouragement.
• When someone is challenged to do something that may be slightly beyond his ability, what do we give him? Encouragement.
• What does a person struggling to cope with difficulties need? Encouragement.
• In a race, what do you give the runners? Encouragement.
What can really change a life? Encouragement.
• Think back on your own life, who are those who have made an impact in your life? They are usually those who have taken the time to encourage you.
• Yet very often, in relationships, we tend to look for faults and weaknesses. We do the direct opposite of what would bring change.
In fact, encouraging someone does not come naturally to most of us. We need to make an effort to say something good, to encourage and build somebody up.
• We can afford to do that more. Adopt the mindset of Barnabas. Affirm people and make a positive difference in their lives.