... continued from last week
This was three years after he had come to faith. Paul figured it was finally safe enough for him to go to Jerusalem, so he secretly made his way south. By now his wife had gone back to live with her family. She could not divorce him, as a woman could not legally divorce her husband in Judea. But she could separate and remain with her father the rest of her life.
So she would. Paul would spend the rest of his life as a single man.
Paul wasn't quite sure whom to connect with in Jerusalem. He knew the leaders by name. He had heard of how Jesus had appeared first to the one they called the "Rock" by the Sea of Galilee. He was called "Cephas" in Aramaic and "Peter" in Greek. Paul also knew of Jesus' brother James, to whom Jesus had also appeared in the early days of the movement. Paul wasn't sure if they believed yet that Jesus had also appeared to him, the last to be called as an apostle.
Paul also knew some of the most prominent houses where small groups of believers met, called "assemblies" or "churches." There was a particularly large group that met in an upper room in the house of a widow named Mary. But Paul did not want to be seen too publicly for fear that the Sanhedrin would hear and come after him.
Then he remembered someone he had seen when he was spying on the Greek-speaking believers of Jerusalem. Unlike Stephen, this man was not a troublemaker. He was much more of a peacemaker. Paul couldn't remember his given name, but he remembered that the Jesus-followers called him "bar-nabas" or "son of encouragement." Paul had been impressed that Barnabas had sold some of his property and given it to others in need. Jesus would be returning so soon, he believed, that there was no point in keeping it anyway.
Imagine Barnabas' surprise when Paul showed up at his house one night. But then Barnabas smiled.
"I heard that you had become a believer," Barnabas said after coming to the door. I heard you got in trouble preaching the good news in Petra, of all places. A wry smile came to Barnabas' face.
"I'm feeling led to spread the good news in my home region of Cilicia," Paul responded, "but I wanted to make peace with the assemblies here first. I would like to meet Cephas and James."
Peter and James were not particularly excited to meet Paul, but Barnabas took Paul to Peter anyway. They spent two weeks together before Paul left for Tarsus, and Paul was also able to meet James. Although Peter and Paul would not always see eye to eye, Paul would always appreciate those two weeks with the first apostle. How Paul wished he could have walked with Jesus like Cephas had!