Summary: a narrative message about the ministry of Barnabas - and how we can all be a Barnabas!
“Be a Barnabas - be a Bridge Builder.”
Subject; What role did Barnabas play in the ministry of the early church?
Complement: he reached out and recruited Saul and partnered with him in the mission.
Preaching idea: Be a Barnabas!
Text: Acts 11:19-26
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
• Barnabas grew up on an island – in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea – we had a nickname for our island... we called it “Club Med.”
• We spent our days on the beach... swimming... fishing... frolicking... such fun.
• And I have Jewish heritage ... so that means no beach on sabbath! “no beach for you!”
• Our tribe was Levite... our ancestors worked in the temple performing priestly duties....
• Eventually, I left our little island paradise and moved to Jerusalem.
• In Jerusalem I heard about Jesus of Nazareth... how he preached and healed... and then was crucified on false charges – but then rose from the dead – impossible you say – unless your God in human form!
• So I too became a follower of Jesus and came to see him as our long-awaited Messiah – but not only ours... the world’s messiah!
• Have you met him?
• He will change your life – for the better!
• Bigger than religion.
• Bigger than institutions
• Bigger than anything – even bigger than Rome and all of its muscle.
... the crucifixion of Jesus – it was very traumatic... but then to our surprise – everyone’s in fact...3 days later – Jesus walked out of that tomb...resurrection... then for 40 days - Jesus kept showing up -- appearing and teaching... then, he ascended to heaven... he left us with instructions to wait in Jerusalem for a gift – the gift – the HS ...and then 10 days later it happened! Pentecost... wind...fire...languages! instant global witness -- 3000 converts in one day – and that was just the beginning!
• the Holy Spirit was poured out and we are empowered... and then we can’t keep it to ourselves... and the good news spread like wildfire!
• Right from the start our community determined to meet the needs of our people... widows...orphans... the poor... no need went unnoticed or unmet.
• I was a bit of an investor... land was my thing...property... “they’re not making any more of it.”
• I sold this beautiful piece of land and gave the money to the apostles – and they used it to meet some basic needs... food... clothing.
Jerusalem was the place to be in those days.
• Persecution followed us though and the religious upheaval felt threatening to traditional Jews... even though Jesus himself was a Jew and respected the Torah... he taught with authority... despite all that they wanted him and his teaching silenced – and that included us.
• But our numbers soon reached 5000... then came the pushback
• Many scattered - into the countryside and to the north...
• Stephen, one of the 7 original deacons - was killed...
• The leader of the persecution was the high priest, Caiaphas – he was responsible for killing Jesus – well now Caiaphas and his most zealous supporter was a man named “Saul of Tarsus” – He went about arresting people... beating people...killing people - because they believed in Jesus of Nazareth.
• Then something remarkable and completely unbelievable happened! Saul of Tarsus – our greatest enemy – became a believer! Shocker!
Everyone I talked to was very suspicious... it’s not possible... he hates us... he hates Jesus... but the story went like this – he was on his way to Damascus to arrest more Jesus followers – when Jesus himself appeared to Saul – and that did it... Jesus couldn’t be dead and talking to Saul... there was lightning... he was blinded... he was knocked off his horse... this was no dream.