Church in Antioch laid hands on Barnabas and Saul
The first missionary journey began only after ministering unto the Lord with fasting. And the teachers and prophets of the Church in Antioch laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them out, only after being specifically led by the Holy Spirit to do so,* vs 1-3.
They began with preaching the message of salvation through Jesus first in the Jewish synagogue on their arrival in Salamis, vs 4,5. Later, on reaching Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was a source of hindrance to the proconsul from turning to faith in Christ Jesus, vs 6-8.
With one sharp rebuke Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, blinded him temporarily, and on getting him out of the way, the proconsul saw what had happened and he believed, vs 9-12!
While in Pamphylia, John Mark deserted them and returned to Jerusalem, vs 13! They took him along, most probably because he was Barnabas’ relative, Colossians 4:10, and not so much on account of being led by the Holy Spirit!
On reaching Pisidian Antioch, they went into the synagogue on a Sabbath day, vs 14. On receiving a message from the synagogue leader to speak up a message of exhortation if they had one, Paul stood up and took the opportunity to share Christ as Saviour and Lord on account of His being raised from the dead and having been seen by many witnesses too.
This he did, by beginning with excerpts from the old testament to back up his message, vs 15-37. He further exhorted them that through Jesus they could have their sins forgiven, and so be justified from everything from which the law of Moses could not justify them, vs 38,39.
*He warned them not to be left out from entering into this grace on account of their unbelief and hardness of heart, vs 40,41! Many showed interest and they received an overwhelming response on the following Sabbath too, vs 42-44.
However, on seeing the crowds, the Jews were filled with jealousy and they began to contradict what Paul was saying by reviling him, vs 45. In response, Paul and Barnabas courageously told them that since they had rejected the eternal life made available through Jesus Christ, they would now proclaim the same to the Gentiles, just as the Old testament Scriptures had prophesied, vs 46,47.
The Gentiles rejoiced to hear this and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed, vs 48,49! Being highly displeased at this turnaround, the Jews invited men and women to stir up a persecution and throw them out of the city!
So, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of their feet in protest and left, vs 50,51. However, the disciples who believed were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit, vs 52.
This shows us the immense importance of being led by the Holy Spirit while seeking to go out into the world to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus. Unless we seek Him with pure hearts, we cannot be commissioned, but once He commissions us, then on being filled with the Holy Spirit we receive the grace and wisdom that is required to face persecution in a godly manner, just as Paul and Barnabas did.
All human ways of seeing people and circumstances will have to be set aside when doing God’s work, and when God’s work is done in God’s way, it will never lack God’s supply, (quote by Hudson Taylor) no matter how difficult the path may be!
Let us, therefore, be determined to seek God wholeheartedly to know and do His will in His way for His glory and in His strength alone. Amen.