“And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.” (Act 14:26)
Paul and his companions had set out on a missionary journey from Antioch, empowered by grace; and now, at the end of their tour, it was only fitting that they return and give a report of all that happened.
Luke writes the account for us – “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers; while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Act 13:1-3)
There is always a great deal of fanfare at the outset of some noble campaign; but especially when the cause is directed by God. Thus we may well imagine the high excitement that attended the Christians at Antioch when they heard the Spirit of God tell them to send Paul and Barnabas out on their mission.
They no doubt would’ve watched as the pair faded off in the distance, topping the crest of a final hill, passing from their sight. Their excitement in sending them off could only be matched by hearing the news after some months that they were returning – and would arrive sometime by late afternoon. You know, “when Johnny comes marching home again — hoorah! Hoorah!” Get the ticker-tape ready!
We have here a slight advantage over our Antiochian brothers, for we (through the pen of Luke) have journeyed with Paul and Barnabas, and know full well of all they encountered – and endured.
It is a miracle that they even survived the trip at all.
And what is the news that they bring upon their return? Why, Good News, of course!
There was no chiding, “Thanks a lot for nothing, you guys! You threw us into the open jaws of snarling lions!!” And, neither was there any whining, “We had it really hard; it was really, really bad; somebody give me a hug.” Nor was there any singing of the blues, “Oh, nobody knows the trouble I seen…..”
Instead, they brought back a good report, and rejoiced over all that Jesus had done through them – and TO them during their trip. And why? Because God had covered them with His grace inside His will; and all things worked together for their good.
Every experience in life makes you bitter, or better. The choice is yours to make. And it all depends on where you are standing – inside, or outside, of God will for your life. James Ryle
Paul and Barnabas, along with their traveling companions, were fully inside the will of God and, therefore, covered by the full measure of His grace for this assignment. So the team returned triumphantly from their journey of faith.
They reported everything the Lord had done, and spent some time resting and being refreshed. And then, far from backing down because of the difficulty of service, they tooled up for yet another journey into the expansive will of God.
Here is it in Paul’s own words – “I am what I am by the grace of God. And His grace given to me was not in vain, for I labored more abundantly than they all; yet it was no I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Co 15:10)
What has God set you apart to do? Have others affirmed it through prayer and support? How is God proving Himself to be with you in your labors? And, who is waiting to hear the good news of all the Lord is doing through you?
“Oh, are you talking to me,” a guy said in the group. “I mean, you are looking straight at me, but it sounds like you’re talking to somebody else.”
You tell me. Am I talking to you?