Spreading the Word
Acts 13:1–12; The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 166–169
God sends us as messengers of His grace.
“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’ ” (Acts 13:2).
Have you ever been on a long trip? How did you travel? Paul and Barnabas were sent on a special trip—a trip to tell others of God’s grace. But not everyone was happy as they preached. Read on to discover what happened.
Paul and Barnabas had worked together in Antioch for a year. They kept busy teaching, preaching, and helping people. And the church in Antioch grew and grew. One day some of the members were fasting and praying. They were asking God to guide them, to tell them what He wanted them to do. While they were praying, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. He said, “I have called Paul and Barnabas to do a special work for Me. Place your hands on them. Then pray for them and send them off to tell the good news in other places.”
Everyone was sad when they heard that Paul and Barnabas were going away. But they also wanted others to hear about Jesus. So the Antioch believers fasted and prayed. Then they gathered for a special prayer meeting. The elders in the church laid hands on Paul and Barnabas and prayed for them. Then they sent them on their way.
Paul and Barnabas took a young man, John Mark, with them. He would learn from them and help them in their work. The three of them caught a boat at the port of Salamis and sailed to Cyprus. They traveled across the island, stopping at all the Jewish synagogues and teaching everyone who would listen.
Soon they moved on to Paphos, on the other side of the island. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet called Bar-Jesus, or Elymas. He was an important man and one of the Roman proconsul’s (governor’s) attendants.
Cyprus was not a huge island, so news of strangers traveled fast. The proconsul soon heard about Paul and his companions. He was curious to hear the Word of God. Elymas was not happy about that. He was afraid that he would lose his influence with the proconsul. So he tried to turn the proconsul against Paul and his friends.
But the Holy Spirit showed Paul what was happening. Suddenly Paul turned and looked directly at Elymas. “You are a child of the devil,” he said. “You are an enemy of everything that is right. You are full of tricks and ways to fool people. You will never stop trying to put roadblocks in the way of the Lord. Because of your actions, you will be blind for a while. You will not be able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately Elymas felt a dark mist rolling in front of his eyes. He blinked. He rubbed his eyes. He tried to push it away. Everything got darker and darker. Elymas was blind. He could not see a thing! He began to reach out for a hand to guide him so he did not fall.
The proconsul was amazed. One moment Elymas could see; the next he was blind. This convinced the proconsul that Paul was teaching the truth. He listened and learned, and he soon believed in God.
Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark traveled on to many other places. Everywhere they went they told everyone the good news: God’s grace is free and available to everyone. We can be like Paul and his friends. We too can tell people we meet about God’s wonderful love and grace.