I love Barnabas. We first meet him, he’s selling his field and giving it to the disciples for use in their ministry. Our first introduction to him is an act of giving. And it just gets better from there.
Barnabas is the first disciple to come beside Paul when nobody else would touch him. Paul’s history as a persecutor of Christians made the believers understandably fearful, but, Barnabas’ perfect love for his new brother drove out that fear.
Not only does Barnabas take Paul in, but he also takes the man with him on his important gospel missions. Pretty soon, he takes a step back and lets Paul do all the preaching, paving the way for Paul the Evangelist, who would take the Gospel to the Gentiles like no other disciple ever had before. Barnabas’ selfless love empowers Paul to become not just a part of the family, but a fully realized individual as well.
Barnabas’ journey takes an interest turn from there. You see, Paul wants to take a return trip to all the places he and Barnabas visited together. Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them, but Paul is having none of it. Apparently, Mark had ditched them on a previous mission and now Paul sees him a liability. Barnabas remains Barnabas though. So, Paul heads off alone.
It just goes to show ya: we are often far too quick to forget that the same God that called us out exclusion calls others too. But God never forgets. He continues to extend the olive branch, sometimes in spite of us.
The story has a happy ending, though. At the end of his live Paul summons Mark to his side (2 Timothy 4:11). That Barnabas love finally got through.