Since Barnabas is one of my favorite characters, I decided to skip ahead and finish out his story today.
I mentioned Andrew yesterday, and there’s a major parallel between the two men. Both Andrew and Barnabas were—by God’s providence—placed in a situation in which they had to watch someone close to them get a lot more attention. Remember, Andrew’s brother was Simon, better known as Peter. Peter preached one sermon in which 3,000 people came to Christ at once. He was one of the “Inner Circle” of three who experienced things with Christ which no one else did. In the book of Acts, it’s revealed that sick people lined up on the street so that Peter’s shadow could fall on them and heal them. He was the linchpin the Lord used to bring Gentiles into the Church. He then went on to write two epistles which became part of God’s inspired word, on the same level of authority as the Torah or the prophets.
Andrew never did any of those things. But he did something for which all of us can be eternally grateful: He introduced Peter to Jesus. He didn’t perform any grand acts for the Lord, but he brought into motion the events that led to all that God did through Peter later on.
It’s the same with Barnabas. Saul of Tarsus was on his way to round up more Christians to arrest and eventually kill. He was knocked to the ground by an appearance by the Lord Jesus himself. As soon as Ananias healed him, Saul (soon to be known better as Paul) immediately started teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus.
But there was a problem. In order to be effective, Paul needed to be vetted, approved and certified by the Apostles, and there was no way he was going to get an audience with them. I mean, what better way could the Church’s enemies sneak in someone to get close to and betray their leaders than by doing this? Paul was on his way to arrest Christians, and now he’s the most fervent spokesman for Christianity? Right. Tell me another.
But Barnabas had seen him in action in Damascus, and he believed in this firebrand. Paul undoubtedly had some rough edges that needed some polishing, but Barnabas saw past all that. And he was more than willing to take a risk and bring this new believer into the presence of the apostles. He vouched for Paul when no one else would.
And that led to all that we read about later. Paul became the greatest missionary who ever lived, and the door to the Gentiles which Peter had cracked, he burst wide open. He performed miracles which validated his ministry, and eventually it was recognized that he was called to be an apostle as an equal to the other Eleven. He fine-tuned the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Not to mention that he wrote half of our New Testament. I'd submit that there's been no one else who's had more of an impact on the Church of Jesus Christ save the Lord himself.
And it all started when someone with spiritual insight and courage stepped forward and did what God wanted.
Father God, is there a diamond in the rough around me, someone who needs a word of encouragement or someone to believe in them? What do you want me to do?