5/10/16 A Division In The Ranks

acts 13 13 map

Leaving Paphos, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark set sail for Pamphylia.  They go first to its capital city, Perga, which is on the river Cestus.  John Mark is very uncomfortable with the new and unfamiliar territory.  He asks to speak with Paul and Barnabas privately.  “I cannot stay with you any longer,” he tells them, a hint of panic in his eyes.  “I don’t know anything about this area or these people and their ways.  I am not cut out for this kind of thing.  Besides, my mother is still in Jerusalem and she is suffering from the famine that is still raging there.  I need to go to her and help her in whatever way I can.”  He looks at Barnabas, pleading with his eyes for Barnabas to understand.  “Cousin, when we were on Cyprus, we were among our own people.  You were brought up there, and I have been there many times to visit relatives.  I was comfortable there.  But here, everything is strange and frightening to me.  I just don’t think I am strong enough to do what you and Paul are doing here.”  Paul looks at John Mark sadly.  “I am very disappointed.  I had such high hopes for you, young man,” he says, knowing in his heart that John Mark will not change his mind.  Paul also knows that the young man will now have to come to terms with the abandonment of his post and ask forgiveness from God before he will be fit to serve in such a way again.  So John Mark leaves them to go back to Jerusalem.  Paul and Barnabas do not stay long in Perga, because they still believe that they must bring Jesus’ message to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles, and there are no synagogues in Perga.  They travel on until they come to another Antioch, and there they find a synagogue.  On the Sabbath day, dressed in their rabbinical robes, they go into the synagogue and find seats in the section where rabbis or teachers usually sit.  Nobody in the synagogue knows who they are or has heard of them, but they are welcomed as honored guests, especially since they are dressed in such as way as to show the people that they are teachers.  The first reading for the hot summer day is from the first chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, with a corresponding lesson from the first chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah.  Paul and Barnabas listen attentively to the readings, and then a special invitation is extended to them to come up and teach the congregation.  The leader of the synagogue beckons them forward, saying, “Brothers, if you have any special teaching to enlighten us on this subject, please, come forward and speak.”  Paul and Barnabas look at each other, both feeling the leading of the Holy Spirit, and thinking that this is just the opportunity they have been hoping for.  Barnabas defers to Paul, knowing that he is a better speaker.  Paul, grinning, stands and walks to the front of the synagogue to begin his message.  “Men of Israel, and all who love the Lord your God, listen carefully!” he begins.


Acts 13:13-16, http://www.lakesideministries.com/images/ActsMap_First_Missionary_Journey.jpg


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