Fixing Saint Paul, Scene 1: Awakening Barnabas

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The Story

Acts 13:13

Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.

The Backstory

Scene 1: Awakening

“Barnabas? Are you awake?”

Barnabas rolled over on his cot to gaze at the younger man who had just walked in.  He smiled sadly, as he saw John Mark’s nervous face and guessed the errand that prompted his late night visit.

“Of course, my son.  What is on your heart?”

“Is it true? Are you and Paul planning another journey?” The words tumbled out of the young man’s mouth, as if he had been holding them in all day.  Which he probably had.

“Well, yes, that is something we have been discussing.  Nothing is finalized yet, but it does seem likely we will be back on the road before the new moon.”

“Can I… Can I ask you a favor?” John Mark said, with his heart in his throat.

Barnabas sighed. He knew what was coming. He had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but… “Of course, my son.”

“Please… can I come with you?”

Barnabas frowned; not something he did often, or well, but sometimes kindness requires harshness.  “John Mark, your courage does you credit.  But under the circumstances, I really think it would be best if you stayed behind.  There is much you could learn and do here with the apostles in Jerusalem.  Why risk your life on the open road? Why not wait until you are older?”

“But that’s just it,” wailed the younger man. “I am older. I am ready to risk my life, the way you and Paul are. I have to, to make up for… for what happened before.”

Barnabas looked him directly in the eyes.  “You know our God forgives all, John Mark. Everything is grace. You don’t have to prove anything to me or anyone else.”

“Anyone?” said John Mark sullenly, staring back. This time, it was Barnabas who averted his eyes first.

“Look, Barnabas. I can’t claim my motives are perfect, or that I’m not afraid.  But I genuinely believe God called me to help spread the gospel to the Gentiles. You affirmed that yourself when we first met! Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve learned from them.  Please,” he said, kneeling to touch the hem of the older man’s robe.  “Give me another chance.”

I am going to regret this, groaned Barnabas inwardly.  But outwardly he said, “Very well, my son. I can not promise anything, but I will ask Paul to let you accompany us.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” burbled John Mark, jumping up to clasp Barnabas’s hand.  “I just know you can persuade him.  Why, he trusts you more than he trusts himself.  Thank you so much for your faith in me.  You won’t regret it!” he added as he ran out the door, presumably to tell his family and begin packing.

“Oh my Lord,” prayed Barnabas, sinking back down into his cot for what he feared would be a sleepless night. “What have you gotten me into this time?”

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