Scripture Reading:  Acts 9:26-30

“And when he (Saul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples.  And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26,27)

We should not be surprised by the reaction of the disciples in Jerusalem when Saul arrived there.  Saul’s reputation for persecuting Christians was widespread:  “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3).  I am not sure that we really grasp the extent of the terror that Saul brought upon those early Christians.  He went after men and women.  He was ruthless in his attempt to stamp out the faith of the early Christians.  People were deeply afraid of him.

So, when he came to Jerusalem, his reputation preceded him.  When he attempted to join the disciples there, they were afraid of him.  It took the intervention of Barnabas to cause the disciples to accept Saul.  Barnabas took him to the apostles and told them about Saul’s conversion, how he had met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Barnabas also told the apostles about Saul’s preaching to the people in Damascus (vs. 20-25).

The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  Barnabas’ name was a reflection of his character.  He was an encourager.  I imagine he went to Saul, who felt terribly rejected, and encouraged him to be patient.  Then Barnabas took the initiative to stick his neck out for Saul.  He encouraged the apostles to accept Saul, which, of course, they did.

Barnabas is a reminder to us of the importance of encouraging others.  We all need encouragement!  I am grateful for the Barnabas’s in my life who have and still do encourage me.  I also realize how important it is for me to be an encourager to others.  We may even need to stick our necks out in order to encourage someone today.

Lord Jesus, thank You for those You have put in my life who have encouraged me throughout the years.  There have been many times when I was discouraged and You sent a Barnabas to me.  Today let me be a Barnabas to someone who needs encouraging.


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