January 11th, 2007
It is nice if people listen eagerly to your opinions, and everything you say and do gets treated with respect. There are lots of good things about being a king or a rock star or a celebrity or some other type of god. But as Paul and Barnabas found out in today’s reading, it is sometimes quite painful and difficult when people want to treat you as gods. Their goal as followers of Jesus was not to draw attention to themselves, but to draw attention to Jesus. When people started believing that Pul and Barnabas were somehow personally responsible for the miracles which were performed through them, things started going badly wrong.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 14
14:1 In Iconium they went together into the synagogue of the Jews, and spoke in such a way that a large number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 14:2 But the Jews who did not believe stirred up cynicism against the brothers in the minds of the Gentiles. 14:3 They stayed there a long time, speaking boldly about the Lord, who demonstrated the message of his grace by doing miraculous signs and wonders through them. 14:4 But the people of the city were divided. Part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 14:5 Some of the Gentiles and Jews and their leaders were planning to attack and stone them. 14:6 The apostles discovered this and escaped to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding region. 14:7 There they preached the Good News.
14:8 There was a man in Lystra whose feet had been crippled since birth, and who had never walked. 14:9 He was listening to Paul speaking. Paul looked at him and could see that he had faith to be healed, 14:10 so he said with a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet!” The man jumped up and started walking. 14:11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted out in the language of Lycaonia, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!” 14:12 They called Barnabas “Jupiter,” and Paul “Mercury,” because he was the chief speaker. 14:13 The priest of Jupiter, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands of flowers to the city gates, and he and the crowds wanted to offer a sacrifice to them. 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting, 14:15 “People, why are you doing this? We are humans just like you, and bring you good news, that you should turn away from these useless things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them. 14:16 In past generations he let all the nations do their own thing. 14:17 Yet he has always provided evidence of his existence. He has shown kindness by giving us rain from heaven and seasons of plenty, filling us with food and our hearts with gladness.”
14:18 Even though they were saying these things they only just managed to stop the crowds from making a sacrifice to them. 14:19 But some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived, and stirred up the crowd. They stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, thinking that he was dead.
14:20 But as the disciples stood around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. 14:21 When they had preached the Good News in that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 14:22 strengthening the minds of the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith, saying, “We must endure many difficulties to enter the Kingdom of God.” 14:23 When they had appointed elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they entrusted them to the care of the Lord, in whom they had come to believe.
14:24 They travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. 14:25 When they had spoken the message in Perga, they went to Attalia. 14:26 From there they sailed to Antioch, which was where they had first been entrusted to the grace of God for the mission which they had completed. 14:27 When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything that God had done through them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 14:28 They stayed there with the disciples for a long time.
Entry Filed under: Perseverance