Saul is in no man’s land. The last time he was in Jerusalem, he was well known as a persecutor of Christians. In Acts 9:1 it says of Saul that he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.”
Saul had gone to Damascus to find more Christians to persecute, arrest, and bring back to Jerusalem. Instead, Saul himself is converted to Christ in Damascus and returns to Jerusalem a follower of Jesus Christ. No one saw this coming.

In Acts 9:26 we learn that when Saul comes back to Jerusalem, he attempts to join the disciples. It is very likely that all of these Christians in Jerusalem could share a story about the terrors that Saul has brought on them or their friends or their family members. He is a well-known enemy of the church. They are all afraid of him and do not believe that he is a disciple.

Saul needs help. He needs an advocate for forgiveness. He needs someone who could speak on his behalf with credibility to the Christians so they would believe him, forgive him, and welcome him into the fellowship of Christians.

That advocate for Saul is Barnabas. He is trusted by the Christians, but he also knows that Saul is a changed man. He is able to assure his fellow Christians that Saul has given his life to Jesus and has preached boldly in the name of the Lord. As a result of Barnabas’ good report, the Christians welcome Saul and overcome their fear of him. Undoubtedly, Saul has wronged many of these Christians personally, but they react with remarkable forgiveness following Barnabas’ good report.

One day you may be the very person who is needed to be an advocate for forgiveness. Perhaps someone will respond to the Lord’s invitation and ask for forgiveness of sin. It may be that you can speak a good word or show the example of love and acceptance. Perhaps you have two friends who are in conflict and you can lead them to resolution and forgiveness. Like Barnabas, we must be about the ministry of reconciliation.

Today, I will…be an advocate for forgiveness and a minister of reconciliation.