The adventures of Paul and Barnabas continue!
Acts 14 begins with Paul and Barnabas — bold, God-fearing ambassadors for Jesus — preaching Christ at Iconium. What we discover here is no new thing: Jesus Christ is polarizing; you either love Him or hate Him. See, a great number of people embraced Jesus as Lord, but there was a faction that wanted nothing to do with Him. Did they quietly disagree and go away? Nope.
“But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.” Acts 14:2 ESV
They were contentious and tried adamantly to thwart the mission of these faithful apostles. Paul and Barnabas had to flee, but I love what verse 7 tells us about them. They didn’t quit in the midst of persecution. It says that they moved to another city nearby, “…and there they continued to preach the gospel.”
While in Lystra, new problems arose. They had the opportunity to heal a man with crippled feet. When the man got well, the people associated Paul and Barnabas with Zeus and Hermes. This greatly distressed them and they tried to persuade the crowds otherwise. The violent, impassioned Jews found them and injured Paul severely by stoning Him and casting him out of the city. This study note from ESV Online really shed some light on this difficult moment for me:
The Lord, in His sovereign will, saw fit to keep Paul alive. His ministry was far from over. Even while injured, God used Paul to encourage believers, strengthen the churches, and preach the gospel.
Here are some questions for us to reflect on today:
1) Do you believe that Jesus is polarizing? How have you seen this to be true?
2) Have you personally encountered opposition because of your faith?
3) How do you respond to difficult situations? Do you continue to preach the gospel, both to others and to yourself?
4) How is your faith inspired and strengthened through reading Acts 14?
5) Have you made the decision to follow Jesus no matter what the cost?
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor