Summary: The sending of Barnabas and Saul - Gentiles sending to gentiles at the direction of the Spirit.
So last week we had sort of a review of Acts in the form of an oral pop quiz. Several of you qualified for extra credit with your willingness to share your answers out loud.
This week the reading has actually been assigned for three weeks so I know you have had a chance to read the selection. For today’s reading we will be focusing mostly on the chapter 13 portion however I want to point out some things I find interesting in the end of chapter 12.
The big picture, Barnabas and Saul had spent time n Antioch and word came of an approaching famine which the church in Antioch responded on their own by collecting money to provide food to the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.
Time wise this is not very long after Peter is freed from prison. I hope you will recall that an angel came and set him free. That James had already been executed and when the Passover ended it would be Peter’s turn to be the center of one of Herod’s shows.
Out scripture this morning starts with Herod leaving town and heading off to Caesarea where there is a negation between areas that are in some conflict with Herod and he has cut off their food supply.
So, Herod is hanging out in his capital of Caesarea, and he gets into a dispute with the people of Tyre and Sidon. These were two free-governing trading cities found in modern-day Lebanon, on the Mediterranean sea.
The valleys around the lower Israel are very fertile and are the place to get your wheat, wine olives and it goes on and on. So the delegation is listening to Herod speak and they are playing it up big.
Man this guy is a great speaker, so wise…..Oh this is just so wonderful that he has come to speak to us. Then the put it on really thick, “They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
I would like to take a moment to offer praise to God, I know that none f you think of me as a god but I want to cover my bases.
The story tells us that these people started declaring that Herod was a God….Perhaps in a way he held some godly powers. He could give life or death to these people by controlling the sale of food. He was going to get his way and it seems that these people were there to butter him up good so things could get back to normal.
Herod is eating it up… Whither the people really believe he was a god or not is probably not as important as whether Herod though he was a god.
Herod is already headed for divine judgment for his life style and for his oppression of the Jews and now the follower of the way. When he accepts the accolades of the crowd without any acknowledgement to God, he is in a way saying, Yes…I am a god.
He is struck down with a horrible sounding affliction.
My first impression is that it is like a horror movie with the disgusting video sequence of a horrible death. But it was probably a slower natural affliction which the angel placed on Herod.
Don’t we like movies where the bad guy gets what is coming to him in the end?
Isn’t this like that. Here we have Herod executing Christian leaders. He basically condemns Peter to death right after the speedy trial but an angel fees Peter from immanent death and then Herod dies instead.
Perhaps the angel that saves Peter is the same that carries out the death sentence.
As a result the word of God continues to increase.
Evidentially, Barnabas and Saul are in Jerusalem around this time and the ending of Chapter 12 tells us, “When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.”
Their mission was to deliver the gift to the Church leaders in Jerusalem. They picked up a new companion, John Mark in Jerusalem and the three of them go back to Antioch.
John Mark would later write the Gospel of Mark. He was a friend of Peter and Barnabas. He was also Barnabas’ cousin. He will be a supporter of the apostles throughout he new testament.
A few weeks ago we talked about how it looks like God is doing new things in Antioch and has moved the center of the activity to this gentile city. Instead of the big stuff happening in Jerusalem it is happening up North.