I. By Jesus, the Son of God
II. By Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement
Acts 11:19-26 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in
connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch,
telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from
Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also,
telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was
with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent
Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace
of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord
with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and
faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then
Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he
brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with
the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called
Christians first at Antioch.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior, dear Christian friends,
Mother’s Day weekend and a Scripture text about encouragement seem to be a
match made in heaven. What mothers don’t need encouraging as they carry out their life-
giving, life-guiding, life-nurturing, life-protecting role for their children? What mothers
haven’t spent their entire lives as encouragers in the lives of their children and others and
are deserving of some special recognition this weekend? Here is a good story to look at
both sides of this encouragement coin.
A man stopped at a flower shop to order flowers to be wired to his mother who
lived two hundred miles away. As he got out of the car he noticed a young girl sitting on
the curb sobbing. When he asked her what was wrong, she replied, "I wanted to buy a
red rose for my mother. But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs three
dollars." The man smiled and said, "Come on in with me, I'll buy you a rose." He bought
the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother's flowers. As they were leaving he
offered the girl a ride home. She said, "Yes, please! You can take me to my mom." She
directed him to the place she wanted to go and was he ever surprised when they arrived—
the cemetery, where she placed the rose on her mother’s freshly dug grave! The man
returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the
two hundred miles to his mother's house! Even in death, one mother’s work of
encouragement in her daughter’s life continued to bring blessings so that another mother
was encouraged by her son’s visit and gift!
Whether you are a mother who needs encouragement or anyone here today who
needs to be encouraged, I have two more accounts of encouragement for you. These
come from two men mentioned in today’s text. So, BE ENCOURAGED BY THE SON
OF ENCOURAGEMENT! I. By Jesus, the Son of God and II. By Barnabas, the Son of
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with
Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only
to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch
and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned
to the Lord.
It was the message of Jesus, the Son of God, that brought the most important
encouragement to the most people. Eyewitnesses of Jesus risen from the dead were now
running for their lives as religious persecutors were intent on capturing or killing them.
As they scattered some seventy to two hundred to two hundred sixty miles away from
Jerusalem, which in those days was a huge undertaking, they recounted to many new
groups of people the events that had happened in the Jewish Holy City and the nearby
towns during the past generation.
They told of the miraculous virgin birth of a baby named Jesus, accompanied by
an angelic chorus announcing it to nearby shepherds. They recounted Jesus’ messages of
the kingdom of heaven and the miracles that could only be done by a King from heaven.
They proclaimed the emotional high of Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance, the deflating lows
of Thursday’s arrest and Friday’s death by crucifixion and the surprising disbelief and
high excitement of Jesus’ Sunday resurrection from the dead. They connected the Old
Testament laws and prophecies to the life and work of Jesus who fulfilled them all.
This good news about the Lord Jesus was encouraging for the Jews in the
outlying areas who were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Messiah to fulfill God’s
promises. It was also encouraging for the Greeks who knew virtually nothing about a
Savior from sin because they didn’t know they needed one. They relied heavily on their
wisdom for everything they needed, but now they were being told of a heaven which was
theirs by God’s grace alone through faith alone, apart from their own ingenuity or good
deeds. So, we are told, a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
As both Jews and Greeks were told the good news about the Lord Jesus and
were encouraged in faith and life for now and for eternity, so the same thing happens for
us! We are worthy of condemnation to hell because of our sins, but we are encouraged
by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection which won our forgiveness and accomplished our
salvation. We are saddened when a loved one dies, yet encouraged that through Jesus’
work and promise that all who believe in him have a place in Paradise. We are depressed
when the word “cancer” is used in our doctor’s diagnosis, but we are encouraged by the
Son of God’s permanent presence in our lives and promise to work in all things for our
good (Ro 8:28).
When you think about how to thank the Son of God for his encouragement and
salvation, let another son of encouragement set an example for you. News of this
reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and
encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good
man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to
the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him,
he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the
church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians
first at Antioch.
His name was Joseph, but for some reason, the apostles called him Barnabas (Ac
4:36), which means Son of Encouragement. This was a fitting name for what we are told
he did here in Antioch. The Scriptures also teach us that he “sold a field and brought
the money” (Ac 4:37) as an offering to the Lord; he convinced the apostles to accept as a
co-worker Saul turned Paul; he accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey to make
sure the good news of Jesus was spread.
When we become selfish with our monies, this Son of Encouragement can
encourage us, by example, to give faithfully and generously of our offerings. When we
see fellow Christians at odds with one another, this Son of Encouragement can encourage
us to act as mediators and help bring resolution to conflict. When we are told to be Jesus’
witnesses, this Son of Encouragement can encourage us to speak the good of Jesus to
others, to pray for its spread throughout the world and to support our missions and
missionaries with our offerings.
How will you be a Son (or Daughter) of Encouragement in the lives of others? As
you seek to encourage others, consider this story:
Two men were seriously ill and occupied the same room in the hospital. One of
them was lying in the bed near the only window in their room. Every day he was allowed
to spend some time sitting up in his bed to help drain the fluid from his lungs. The other
man was forced to spend all his days flat on his back.
They talked a lot about everything. Any time the first man was sitting by the
window, he described in vivid detail whatever was outside the window: a park with a
beautiful lake on which were many ducks and swans, children joyfully playing, couples
walking arm-in-arm among colorful flowers and a stunning city skyline.
One night, the man next to the window died peacefully. After they removed the
body, the distraught roommate asked if he could be moved next to the window. The
nursing staff agreed and kindly made the switch. When they left, the man slowly and
painfully propped himself up on one elbow and took a look at the world outside. He was
stunned to find out the window faced the blank wall of another building.
When he told his nurse about this major surprise and how his roommate made it
seem like there were so many beautiful things outside the window, she added to his
astonishment by telling him the deceased roommate was a blind man. She said, “He
probably did all of this just to encourage you.”
As you have been encouraged by Jesus, the Son of God, and Barnabas, the Son of
Encouragement, so “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Th 5:11).