After this had gone on quite a long time, some Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul got wind of it. They were watching the city gates around the clock so they could kill him. Then one night the disciples engineered his escape by lowering him over the wall in a basket.
Back in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.
After that he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master’s name. (Acts 9:23-29 The Message)
Saul started out of the gate with persecution all around. Sure, the people of The Way had cause to be skeptical because after all, he had been trying to have them arrested and killed for their faith. But now his former buddies felt betrayed by his switching sides, and now they wanted to kill him. He was alone as far as people were concerned. No one was eager trust him.
When someone betrays you, it is hard to believe they can change. You have to be able to see the changes in them for a definite period of time. Then you may start to believe the change is real. But Saul had Jesus in his corner. Jesus had chosen him to be His representative. And that is all Saul needed to boldly proclaim Jesus. It didn’t matter to him what anyone else thought.
Jesus can change any heart instantly. People may not accept it. But Barnabas did and took Saul under his wing, putting his reputation at stake for the sake of Saul. He believed in him, because he saw Saul lay his life on the line for The Master. I need to be like Barnabas and stand up for the underdog and give them a chance to show they are different because they encountered Jesus. I need to do it for Jesus, so as not to discourage them, but to encourage them in their new life. I need to help them walk, focused on Jesus, without negative energy.
All over the country—Judea, Samaria, Galilee—the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully. (Acts 9:31 The Message)
The disciples started preaching where ever they went. As the the people started witnessing the miracles, they woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them and many put their trust in the Master. How different it is when people start working together towards one purpose.
How different would things be today if all believers thought God was alive and active in their life and in the lives of their fellow believers?
Down the road a way in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, “Gazelle” in our language. She was well known for doing good and helping out. (Acts 9:36 The Message)
To Cornelius- The angel said, “Your prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention.(Acts 10:4b The Message)
Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. (Acts 10: 28 The Message)
Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you are from—if you want God and are ready to do as He says, the door is open. (Acts 10: 34-36 The Message)
Things were on the move. It didn’t matter if you were male or female. It didn’t matter where you were born. It was now open to anyone who wanted to follow the way of the Master. The Holy Spirit was available to all to give boldness and courage to tell others of the love of Jesus for them.
Your sex, race, or religion does not get God’s attention. It is your prayers, neighborly acts, and doing good, and helping others out. That is what matters to God. It is your relationship with God, and your relationship with others, that gets God’s attention!
And so, it continues to this day. Anyone, yes anyone, who wants to follow the way of the Master is accepted into the faith.
Father God, please give me the desire to reach out to others even if I am scared to do so. It is not only your message of love and forgiveness that gets people’s attention. It is also through your meeting the needs of people and reaching out to them right where they are. Your ways are contrary to the earth’s ways. They are higher and mysterious, and so precious. They touch the heart of the one being reached out to, and they touch the heart of the one reaching out. Touch my heart to do good to others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!