Monday, October 22, 2007

Acts 14:1-18

Iconium was ninety miles from Pisidian Antioch. When they arrived, they once again went first to the synagogue, and once again, many Jews and Gentiles believed. Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly, but God bore witness to His word by "granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (14:3). They were able to stay in this city for a long time. As had happened before, those who didn't believe sought out ways to rid themselves of these men. After learning of a plot to stone them, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra.

One day while they were in Lystra, Paul encountered a man who had been crippled since birth. Paul saw that this man "had faith to be made well" (14:9). Paul understood that faith was a prerequisite for transformation. Paul commanded him to stand and the man stood. The crowd saw what had happened, and believed that these newcomers were in fact Zeus (Barnabas) and Hermes (Paul). A little background here is needed. There was a story that every child in Lystra knew. It was the story of these two gods visiting their city but not being welcomed. The city in turn missed out on many blessings. Everyone knew this story, and no one wanted to make the same mistake twice.

This time they began worshiping Paul and Barnabas, who no doubt had no idea what was happening. A priest of Zeus even came out to begin making sacrifices to them. At this point Paul and Barnabas tore their garments and pleaded with them to stop, saying that they were only men, though men representing the Most High God, the One they should be worshiping.

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