October 28th 2010

Good Ol’ Barnabas – 6

The sixth of an occasional series

“And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.”
Acts 12:25 (NKJV)

At this time Barnabas was still in charge. I suspect it was he who made the decision to take John Mark along as assistant. Was it against Saul (Paul’s) better judgment?

Barnabas, good old Barnabas, seems always prepared to help bring someone along. He was a developer of people. I remember I had a teacher at school like that. Miss Treacher was always encouraging people. She recognised certain strengths in her pupils and she would encourage the young man or woman to work on these, to develop the particular skill, to make the most of the opportunity, to use it. It was because of her I won a county-wide competition. I still have the book I won in my library.

John Mark was young. A little later he abandoned assisting Barnabas and Paul and went home to Jerusalem. When Barnabas wanted to give John Mark a second chance, Paul vigorously opposed it.

Barnabas was a humble man, and was usually able to work peaceably with the fiery character that was Paul. But that didn’t mean where others were concerned he would easily give in. In this case he didn’t. The disagreement was such that Paul and Barnabas separated. But it would seem that in the end Barnabas won his argument for John Mark’s second chance, because years later, Paul acknowledged John Mark as useful for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).

Christians need to be able to see the longer term, should be looking for the potential in others, and be willing to invest in the time, patience, effort and encouragement of others, recognising that they may well end up “useful for the ministry”. We have more to say on this episode another time.

Most merciful Father, thank you for Barnabas. You tell us to pray for labourers in your field of ministry. Help us to see the potential in others. Instead of concentrating so much on our own talents, give us the concern to invest of ourselves in others, so that they can become useful to you and profitable to the church. In Jesus’ name we pray,

Study by John Stettaford 

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