Acts 14:19-23 Left For Dead

Even this doesn’t stop God’s plans!

When we left our intrepid missionaries they were stopping the people from worshiping them as gods. The people were so in awe of the miracle God had performed through them that they thought them gods themselves; Zeus and Hermes. NOT SO said Paul. We rejoin the story where some of the dissenting Jews from previous stops show up to stir up the crowd against Paul and Barnabas.

I’m curious to know if the Jews showed up at in the same crowd we were just reading about or if they came in a little later and poisoned all the crowds in general. I find it hard to understand how they could turn the crowd so quickly from adoration to aggression if it was the same day. I’m also wondering what it is that they said to the crowds that got them so worked up. To go from trying to install someone as a god to dragging them through the streets and engaging in killing them seems like a HUGE swing of the pendulum. How did they get there?

Paul and Barnabas had preached the same message from town to town. They refused to be silenced. The Jews that were following them from place to place in an effort to stir things up had time to make up all kinds of claims against Paul and Barnabas. And they were apparently good at it.

I also want to know where Barnabas was when Paul was being stoned and dragged through the streets. Why wasn’t Barnabas stoned along with Paul? Was Paul the more vocal one in the group? Was Barnabas busy elsewhere during this event?

Something that I find VERY comforting is that, even though the Jews came along and worked the people up, there were men and women coming to faith in Jesus. There were disciples in that city. They are the ones who gathered around the crumpled body of Paul after the Jews were finished with him. They thought he was dead. I wonder if God blinded their eyes to Paul’s breathing. Or maybe God stopped Paul’s breathing long enough to get them to go away. However that reprieve happened, Paul stood back up and went right back into the city. He didn’t stick around though. Just for the night. Then he and Barnabas headed to their next stop.

To me, the best part is what happened on the way back. It is awesome that they made many new disciples in Derbe but then they returned to the cities where they had had so much trouble. The reason they came back was because there were disciples there too. The Jews were not successful in stopping the gospel. Lystra, Iconium and Antioch ALL had believers in them. They had new churches growing right in the midst of the persecution. Paul and Barnabas made sure the churches were on sound footing before leaving. “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (verse 23). Roses among the thorns.

God was not through with Paul yet. He would NOT let these men kill him. His plans will not be defeated.

Father God, I don’t think I would have had the courage to go back into the city where I had been stoned and left for dead. You gave Paul a VERY brave heart. You filled him with Your love for the people. He didn’t come back to thumb his nose at those who thought they could stop him but to encourage those who believed in You. To share with them some of his strength. To pray for that same strength in them. To pray for Your hand of protection over them. To care for his new brothers, sisters and children in Christ. He loved them like You did.

Thank You for opening my eyes to his motivation just now. I want that kind of love. A love that is willing to risk everything to help those You care about. I have a feeling he would have been more than happy to speak with the crowds again if You had told him to. He loved them too and didn’t want to see them going to Hell. But now that job would fall to the churches left behind. Now it’s my job to show that kind of love, even to those who won’t receive it. Forgive me for being selfish with my love.

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