Summary: Barnabus the giver, the risk-taker, the faithful
Barnabas: Stories of God’s People
May 21, 2006
How many of you can think of someone who, at some point in your life, believed in you when you weren’t sure you believed in yourself? Someone probably a little older, a little wiser, more experienced, who looked at you and the situation you were in and pulled you aside and said, “You can do this! I know that you can.”
On Friday I was watching the hockey game with some friends, and in between periods we were chatting and I mentioned that I was working on building a sidewalk down the side of my house, that I’d spent the later part of the afternoon building the forms, and I said “I don’t really know what I’m doing – have any of you ever done concrete? I’m especially wondering about doing the finishing.” They all shook their heads, and then one of them said, “aah, you can do it. Get the right tools, you’ll be fine.” Then, perhaps the most encouraging comment, “it’s between the two houses… no one will ever see it…” But it worked! That one bit of encouragement did it.
In our series entitled “Stories of God’s People”, I want to introduce you to a man from the New Testament. We first meet him in Acts 4. It is very, very early in the story of the Christians. It is not long ago that the Holy Spirit fell on the believers at Pentecost, and Peter has been leading the new Christians. In Acts 2:42ff, we read that “42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
One of those whom “the Lord added to their number” is introduced to us at the end of Acts 4: “36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
A Man of Generosity and Encouragement:
In this quick introduction, we get our first glimpse into who is Barnabas. We see he is a man of generosity. He is a giver. By his actions, we can see that he is one who loves God, not one who loves money. We don’t know much more – we don’t know if he was a man of wealth who gave out of his abundance, or if he gave at a great sacrifice, but we do know that it was a significant gift – he sold land to bring finances to the work of the ministry that was started.
Barnabas was not like a certain Baptist preacher, who one day received a phone call from a woman wanting to arrange a funeral for her beloved dog. She said, “I’ve called several Churches, and everybody just laughed at my request. The Baptist preacher said, "Ma’am, we don’t really do that but I’d be interested in knowing why you want that done." She said, "Well, I just loved that dog and I want a funeral for him." "Well," the preacher said, "that’s nice but we just can’t." She then said, "I sure loved him, I’d be willing to give $10 000 to any church who would hold the funeral." "Oh," said the preacher, “why didn’t you tell me your dog was a Baptist? Of course we’ll do it."...
We also see something of Barnabas’ character from the new name he is given by the apostles, “Son of Encouragement.” We’ll see more of that as we continue.
Barnabas The Risk Taker:
The next time we meet Barnabas is in Acts 9. It is quite a while later – the Gospel has gone to Samaria with success, and is on its way to Ethiopia with the newly baptized Ethiopian Eunuch, and there has been a lot of persecution that has scattered most of the believers out of Jerusalem. Chapter 9 begins with this: “1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” It continues, telling the great story of how Saul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, is blinded, meets Ananias and has his sight restored, is baptized and “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (vs. 20).