When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. And there they preached the Good News. While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!”
Acts of the Apostles 14:6-11 NLT
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.
Acts of the Apostles 14:14-15 NLT
Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
Acts of the Apostles 14:19-20 NLT
We have a new way of ministry for Paul and Barnabas. They went to Lystra, and there were no synagogues. Lystra was a pagan Roman community. As they talked in the marketplace about the death and resurrection of Jesus, there was a lame man who heard their message. Paul recognized the man had the faith to be healed and spoke healing into the man. This healing caused quite a stir. The pagan people associated the miracle with gods coming to visit them and prepared to have a big celebration with sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.
When Paul and Barnabas realized what was going on, they stopped the people. They told them they were simply human beings, and they had come to tell them to turn from their worthless idols and to the true God.
Then some troublemakers showed up from Antioch and Iconium and convinced everyone to stone Paul. What a fickle crowd! One moment they want to worship you as a god, and the next, they are stoning you. It reminds me of the crowd in Jerusalem who welcomed Jesus as king when he rode a donkey into town. Then, only days later, they shouted, “Crucify him.”
Some observations. First, Paul and Barnabas refused to compromise the message of Jesus being the only way to God. They did not come to add another god to the pagan list of deities. Instead, they wanted everyone to know Jesus was the only way to a relationship with God.
Second, never trust a fickle crowd. We must live our lives to please the Lord God. If we try to please people, they will turn on us and attack us.
Third, God will protect His children—even though the path may include suffering. Up to this point, Paul has escaped before being stoned. This time, he is stoned and assumed to be dead. But the believers in that community gathered around him, and God raised him up. I see in this the power of united prayer. There was a boldness in the believers of the pagan city that touched the heart of God.
It might be interesting to note that Paul would make at least two more trips to this city to visit what would become a strong church. Timothy, who would become Paul’s partner in ministry, came from this city. God was working even when it looked like the devil was winning.
Holy Spirit, help me never to compromise Your truth. Help me to live to please You and not just focus on man’s approval. Help me to have eyes to see what You are doing.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.