Sun, Mar 05, 2023
Teacher: Yale Wall Series: The Acts of the Apostles Scripture: Acts 14:1-28
At the end of Acts 13,
Paul and Barnabus are out sharing Jesus with the people of a city called Antioch. As they’re preaching and seeing people healed, a huge number of gentiles were giving their lives to Jesus.
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district
So, Paul and Barnabus are in a hard place, and anti-Jesus people there push back against them, so Paul and Barnabus leave and head towards Iconium.
Then, at the beginning of chapter 14, we see the same thing go down in Iconium:
Acts 14:1-2, 5-6
Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.
So again, Paul and Barnabus are preaching the Gospel, people are getting saved and transformed by new relationship with Jesus, anti-Jesus people get mad, they have to run for their lives.
So then they’re in a city called Lystra. When they get to Lystra, they meet a man who was crippled and couldn’t use his feet. They pray for his healing, he starts walking, and everyone in Lystra sees this happen and thinks that Paul and Barnabus must themselves be gods.
The people start bringing them offerings, and Paul and Barnabus respond in
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
So then, while this is all happening, the guys that were all mad in Antioch and Iconium show up. They track Paul and Barnabus down, and they get into a verbal fight with everyone at Lystra.
19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
Paul has done literally nothing wrong, he’s gone into these places trying to save these people, and trying to give them a hope and a future through Jesus. In return, they try to kill him.
Then, as Paul was laying outside of the city undoubtedly close to the end of his life, this is what happened:
20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
Instead of running, Paul goes back into the city!
God doesn’t usually force us to go into hard places, but He FOR SURE invites us to follow Him into them for the sake of the Gospel. And when we do, that’s when we experience those highlight moments that we see in Acts, along with those lowlight moments of pain, fear and hurt. It’s worth it to follow God into HARD PLACES!
The earthly “smart move” would have been to set up a solid church in Jerusalem and take a few generations to reach the region so it was culturally normal before heading out behind enemy lines. But, that’s not EVER what the disciples did!
They kept moving around, kept preaching, kept representing Jesus in hard places, knowing that people might come against them.
Yes, Paul was almost stoned to death in Lystra, but he got sucker-punched in the middle of a riot. RIGHT before that, we see in Acts 14:5 that he RAN from people who wanted to hurt him.
5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe
Paul didn’t stand in front of them like an idiot and say, “bring it on!!” He was simultaneously LOVING people on the street, but also being street smart about how he handled himself.
Even after the people of Antioch and Iconium stoned him, he went back to them to share Jesus with them, and to build up the church there.
He doesn't back down, because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it, because the broken people around him needed to know about the Hope of the Gospel, and because he was the only ones there to stand in the gap.
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