Tag Archives: Barnabas

The Nature of Crowds (From Acts 14)

In Acts 14 there is a remarkable story that took place in Lystra during Paul and Barnabas’s first missionary trip.

In the name of Jesus, Paul healed a paralyzed man, and immediately the people of the city began to worship both he and Barnabas, believing them to be the Greek gods Hermes and Zeus.  Paul and Barnabas loudly rebuked them for their false worship and mourned over them.

Then something crazy happens. I will post two consecutive verses here to highlight what happened:

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18 Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Do you see that? In one verse the people are trying to offer sacrifices to them as gods, and in the very next verse the crowds are stoning them nearly to death.

This was the same treatment they gave Jesus. On Palm Sunday he rode a donkey into Jerusalem and they believed he would be their king. They shouted Hosannas to him, and dropped their robes in front of his donkey. Within a week the crowds were chanting “Crucify” and stripping his robes off him.

Christians today often find it very hard when they read a news story about the 10 Commandments being removed from a public place, or when someone says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

I think we should expect this kind of thing, and expect it to be much much worse. Paul and Barnabas could have developed an expectation of favoritism and expected everyone to always approve of them, but they didn’t. Christians must learn to expect opposition, not be surprised by it, and not be deterred by it. If Jesus could be crucified and Paul and Barnabas stoned nearly to death, then certainly we can toughen up and deal with it when our culture rises against us.

Instead of getting upset by rejection, we should learn from scripture and keep moving, keep forgiving, and keep advancing God’s kingdom. If some do not like God’s kingdom, then forgive them and go find someone who will receive it.

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A Missions Trip With Paul and Barnabas

Acts chapter 13 is the first detailed description of a missions trip in the Bible. It begins this way:

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

This missions trip became the first of many for Paul, and it shows us several important principles about missionary work.

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You win some, you lose some

In Acts 13:4-12 Paul and Barnabas encountered a man named Bar-Jesus, who is a magician. He opposed them directly and constantly, and God blinded him, probably in a manner similar to the way Paul himself had been blinded by God.  When this happened it led directly to Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Paphos accepting Jesus as his lord and savior. Paul does this many times in his travels, willing to cast out demons or individuals who are opposing the gospel in order to bring Christ to others.

Mission’s trips do not always go as planned, even if you have extremely strong support.

Paul and Barnabas left Antioch, a thriving church, with the blessing from its great teachers and leaders. However, by verse 13, their helper John quit and went back to Jerusalem. This was not a friendly split either. We know from Acts 15 that Paul was deeply offended and distrustful of John for quitting. They were eventually brought back together as close friends, but on this first missionary journey it was a major source of conflict.

There is always a harvest, you just have to work to find it

Chapter 13 ends with the entire city of Pisidian Antioch coming to hear Paul and Barnabas teach about Jesus. Everything starts off well until a group of Jews gather around and directly argue and contradict them. When Paul hears it, he stops and tells them he will now preach among the gentiles because the Jews have rejected the message.

The Gentiles rejoice loudly about this, and praise God for his grace.

There is always a harvest, but you will encounter major opposition from outsiders as well as insiders. You must persevere and continue holding true to the message until you find an audience who will listen, whether it is one person or a whole city.

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