Monday, April 4, 2016

A Man Named Man

Acts 13 lists a guy by the name of Manaen and we are told he was a childhood friend of a Herod who would be King. Manaen is listed in Acts 13 among the prophets and teachers of the church in Antioch. If these two facts combined don’t raise some eyebrows, then maybe you’re not familiar with the name Herod.

From the Bible, we’re not given anything more about the life of Manaen. He was a leader in church and he used to play tag with Herod, who was decidedly not a leader of the church.

Can you imagine the background of Manaen? Did he go over to play at Herod’s house? What was that like? What did he overhear? Did he know about some baby Messiah? Were there rumors?

What did this guy grow up believing about the world? About Judaism? About John the Baptist? About Jesus?

Using other ancient texts, some believe Manaen’s family and Herod’s family had been connected for a few generations. Manaen was likely educated by private tutors along with Herod and his brother. What brought him around to become a believer in the book of Acts? Now he’s a leader of the Church?

I’ll likely not hear the many details of this man’s story until Heaven. What we do know is Manaen had a story that somehow led him from childhood friend of Herod to follower of Jesus.

Have you ever considered how much we don’t know about one another? Ever wonder about the highs and lows of each person…each week? Are the smiles pasted on for a Sunday show? What are the current struggles and pain for those with whom we share a pew?

Better yet, what are the past stories? How often have you wondered about how each person came to know Jesus? Were they born into a Christian family? Or were they born into a family that never even considered church?

If we’re not paying attention, Manaen is little more than a weird name tucked away in the New Testament. He may not have been significant enough to have his story in print. Yet he was a guy, with a family, a job, hobbies and a passion for Jesus. His life did have significance. He did impact people around him, even if we don’t get to know their stories either.

How differently would we act towards one another when we gathered if we thought more about this? I sometimes imagine Heaven lasts forever because it will be an eternal party with each of us sharing stories that all begin with, ‘Let me tell you how I came to know about Jesus.’ 

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