Be a Barnabas . . .
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV
The Gospel of Mark is a fast paced account of the life of Jesus, focusing more on His actions than words. It is a beautiful and exciting account of the life of Jesus. But did you know that the Gospel of Mark almost didn’t happen? The Gospel of Mark almost didn’t happen because Mark the Gospel writer almost didn’t happen.
Early is his faith life, Mark had the privilege of accompanying men like Barnabas and the Apostle Paul on missionary journeys. Somewhere in the process Mark abandoned ship (see Acts 13:13). The Bible does not say why Mark left; maybe the experience was too overwhelming for a young Christian, maybe it was fear, maybe failure. Whatever the reason, Mark left Barnabas and Paul and went home.
Mark’s departure did not sit well with Paul. Paul was very zealous for the Lord and he expected everyone else to share his zeal; he didn’t approve of a quitter. Barnabas was a little more forgiving. Sometime after Mark’s departure Barnabas approached Paul about Mark:
“Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15:37-40, ESV).
Barnabas must have seen something special in Mark; he was willing to sever his relationship with Paul for Mark. Barnabas must have seen a spark that simply needed someone to fan it into flame. He was able to see past Mark’s inabilities and see his abilities; he was able to see past Mark’s failure and see his future. Barnabas was willing to stir Mark on to love and good works. Barnabas was able to be the difference maker in a young man’s life because he was willing to believe in him and to take the time to invest in that life.
Because Barnabas was willing to stand beside and walk with a known failure, that failure grew into one of the faithful. Barnabas was willing to love and encourage Mark into a great and godly man. A few years later the Apostle Paul commended Mark to the Colossian Church (Colossians 4:10) and described Mark as a fellow worker for the Gospel (Philemon 24). In his last letter, just before he was to be executed, one of Paul’s last requests was, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). The very one that Paul didn’t want anything to do with became the one he didn’t want to do without. Why? Mark had grown into a faithful man because of the seeds of faith that Barnabas planted in his life. Barnabas saw something in Mark and did something about it. He believed in him, and then backed it up with his life, changing Mark’s life in the process.
Is there a “Mark” around you? Someone that is struggling? Someone that is failing? Someone that has fallen? You can be the difference maker! You can be the one to change the course of someone’s life! If it wasn’t for the original Barnabas, we may only have 3 of the Gospels. Be a “Barnabas.”