Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 28, 2008

“He came home, but …”

When the prodigal came home …  there was a hug, a kiss, a pair of sandals, a robe, a ring, a fatted calf, and a celebration waiting on him. I am sure that his welcome home included a hot bath and a haircut. By the time of the “Welcome Home Son” party began, his makeover was complete … no more stench or stain from the pig pen, only the haunting memories in the runaway’s heart.

However, sometimes when the prodigal comes home, a hot bath and a haircut will not remove the stains or consequences of those wasteful years. Sometimes … there are legal consequences that remain on account even when the sin consequences are blotted out.

How do you “deal” with that brother?

Well, first … you treat him how the Father would. Welcome him home! Celebrate that the one that was lost has been found … the one that was dead is now alive. We want this brother to KNOW that we agree with God … and that we are going to “forgive” him … “comfort” him … and “reaffirm” our love him, so that he will not be overcome by “overmuch sorrow”.

Then, of course, we want to “Barnabas” him. Barnabas means “son of encouragment”, and that is exactly what Barnabas did for Saul … as he helped him find his place in this new fellowship. Consider (Acts 9:26-31, NIV): “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.” In being Saul’s advocate Barnabas helped the disciples to begin to trust this new brother, reassuring them that he (Barnabas) believed that Saul really was a disciple … and he helped Saul by standing with him, reassuring him that he (Barnabas) believed it and that he would help Saul convince the rest of the disciples.

Such an encourager – advocate – friend is needed by any brother or sister, who is coming home – but especially by those who have some residual consequences. Jesus accepts that role (1John2:1-2) … and would be pleased if we would see fit to do the same.

Now … such a role is not without risks, because the disciples still might not trust … and the prodigal might falter and fail again. Therefore, the “Barnabas brother” must be one who is strong in the Lord (for the Lord) … for it is the strong that “bear with the failings of the weak“. And though it is a difficult task and even a treacherous place – “caught in the middle” – it is needed by more people than we want to acknowledge. They wait outside the fellowship – outside the celebration – waiting for someone to “Barnabas” them inside.

p.s. Cline Paden was such a Barnabas to me. For the rest of my life … I will thank God for his strength to face my accusers and his courage to believe in me.

p.p.s. Did you have a Barnabas?



  1. I, too, am thankful for Mr. Paden.

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