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Summary: Relationships, Ministry, Disagreements, People

JAIL BREAK (Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness) - Sharp Disagreements

October 21, 2018

Acts 15:36-41 (p. 771)


Barnabas is one of my favorite people in the New Testament. He is an encourager…In fact that’s what his name means…“Son of Encouragement.”

After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus most of the other believers were doubtful of its sincerity…They remembered the arrest and threats…They remembered Stephen’s stoning as “Saul” held their coats giving full approval while it happened.

After his conversion Paul began to share boldly and publicly his faith in Jesus…and those who had sent him to arrest Christians now began to plot to kill him…during this time he had very few friends among believers…if any…and the Jewish hierarchy now hated him. He was in a very lonely place.

He has a few believers that help him escape this plot by lowering him over a wall in a basket by the cover of darkness…but listen to what happens when he comes to Jerusalem:

ACTS 9:26-28 (p. 765)

How powerful are those words in this situation, “But Barnabas took him and brought him…” Barnabas says, “I stand with him…so should you.”

This same encourager who has sold his property so others could be helped, now stands with a convicted murderer…and says, “He preaches fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”

[Most of you know my story…after years of using drugs and selling drugs I dropped out of High School. 3 months before my 18th birthday I surrendered my life to Christ…(If you want all the gory details I have a CD called “The Fire that Burns Away the Clutter” up at the info. desk). Through the intervention of a man names Thermus Reynolds and others I was allowed to go back to Lafayette to finish up…I had never killed anyone, but I promise you I was in “no man’s” land…Those who knew me before hated me for rejecting that lifestyle…and those who were part of the good crowd knew my reputation…and they didn’t trust me for a second or want anything to do with me…except for 2 teachers…and the editor of the yearbook…a girl named Becky who brought me to a Bible Study at a weird guy’s apartment…His name was Brewster…not only did they save my life…they brought me through a transition from my old life to my new life…by the way I was sharing Jesus with everyone who asked “What happened to you!” Even now I look back at God’s grace and these encouragers as the greatest gift in my spiritual journey.]

I am certain Paul felt those same feelings toward Ananias, who shared the gospel with him and for Barnabas who encouraged and protected him!

Eventually Paul and Barnabas became a missionary team…sent out from the church of Antioch to preach the gospel…“And set apart for this work God had called them to do.”

On one of their early trips they take a young man with them named John…but everyone called him “Mark.” And something happened to “Mark”…he got homesick, scared, or discouraged and he leaves Barnabas and Paul and goes back home…after Paul and Barnabas get home it says…

Paul comes to Barnabas and says, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers and sisters in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord.”

And Barnabas says, “OK. Let me get John Mark to go with us.” And Paul says, “NO WAY!!!! He deserted us!!!”

Paul and Barnabas have such a bitter (sharp) disagreement about this, they part company.

Here’s an important truth…


Sharp means it cuts you…cuts you deeply…Paul has been cut by John Mark’s desertion…Barnabas is a second chance person, and he’s cut by Paul’s refusal to do so…

Understand the greatest hurts do not come from acquaintances and strangers…the greatest hurts come from those who are close…those we’ve let in…people we’ve opened our hearts to…those we’ve made ourselves vulnerable to.

Cosimo de Medici said, “We read that we ought to forgive our enemies, but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.” In practice it may be a lot easier to forgive our enemies than it is to forgive our friends. We don’t expect much from our enemies. We expect a lot from our friends. When they disappoint us, or betray us, we find it very hard to forgive them.

Do you think Judas’ kiss and Peter’s denials hurt Jesus worse than the Pharisee’s hateful words? Yeah? Me too.

Paul and Barnabas had invested themselves in John Mark’s life…I’m sure both had been disappointed in his desertion…it’s a big enough issue it’s the center of a big argument between two godly men.

But the question still remains…


I’ve discovered about ministry and the church, not everyone thinks, acts and speaks like me. My priorities might not be your priorities. Some of the important things I focus on might not even be in your peripheral vision.

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