Not me personally, I’m a woman but that is beside today’s point. I was bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have detailed accounts lately of what was going on during Paul’s journey. Moan no more! Today we get to watch as a group tries to elevate them to god status.
Paul and Barnabas have just narrowly escaped being stoned AGAIN but they were not silenced. They just moved on to somewhere else to share God’s word. They are in Lystra today.
While Paul is teaching he notices a man in the crowd who is intently listening to every word being spoken. His expression leaves no doubt in the disciple’s mind that this man is drinking in and accepting the word of faith being shared. Paul keeps watching his throughout his presentation of the gospel and his spirit is burning with compassion for the man.
This man is about middle aged and sitting to the side of the crowd on a blanket. He is a beggar and was placed there in the morning by his friends. Why was he a beggar? Why is he there? He has been crippled since birth. This is the only life he has known. Each day he is brought to the square to beg for alms.
I don’t know what it is in the man’s eyes/face that catches Paul’s attention. Did he see him nod in agreement at the right times? Did he see compassion in his eyes when Paul spoke of how Jesus was mistreated? Did he see identification with Jesus’ suffering? Did he see longing and hope when speaking of forgiveness for sins? Did he see pleading in his eyes when talking of the miracles Jesus did for others?
Whatever it was that Paul saw he equated it to the man “had faith to be made well” (verse 9). I would bet that Paul saw this through Spiritual eyes. The Spirit spoke to his spirit and told him to reach out to this man.
“Stand upright on your feet”, says Paul in a loud voice. (verse 10a).
This man’s reactions demonstrated that he did indeed have faith to be made well. He didn’t look at his feet and think “Is he crazy?” He didn’t laugh Paul off. He didn’t even test out his feet by slowly rising up. Instead he “sprang up and began walking” (verse 10b). He didn’t even need to learn how to walk. That too was given to him in this miracle from God.
EVERYONE in attendance knew that a miracle had occurred. It was absolutely obvious. The problem arose when the people confused the miracle’s origins. Instead of recognizing God as the worker through Paul’s hands they saw Paul as the originator of the miracle.
When the people first started crying out that Paul and Barnabas were gods, Paul and Barnabas didn’t understand them. They were speaking in their native tongue; Lycaonian. This was not a language our two missionaries were fluent in. But they got the meaning of the people’s words when the priests for the false gods showed up with sacrifices.
“WHAT!!! We are NOT gods! We are mere men like you. We only came to share the good news of the true living God with you. He is the one who made this man well. He is the one who made Heaven and Earth. Don’t worship us, worship HIM! The gods you are serving are nothing compared to Him.”
Paul and Barnabas shared how God had cared for these people even before they knew Him. “He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (verse 17). Now it is time to recognize the true source of all He has provided.
Paul talked a blue streak but he “scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifices to them” (verse 18). I credit the amazing miracle and the hunger of the people for something real with their zeal. They had been serving empty gods for so long with no miracles of any consequence to show for that service. One miracle at the hands of the living God had them standing at attention and salivating to show their appreciation. They just needed pointed in the right direction with that reverence and gratitude. Paul made CERTAIN to point them in the right direction.
We will see next time how that adulation turned to animosity in a moment time.
Father God, there is NO god like You! ALL those pretend gods are inventions of man to try and explain Your gifts to us. You are the ONLY one who has spoken directly to us from the Heavens. You are the only one with power to impact our lives. YOU hung the stars. YOU created the oceans and gave them their boundaries. You even loosed their boundaries at one time then restored them again. Thank You for even considering us in Your great plan. Thank You for bring us the gospel; the good news of Your love. Thank You too for the stories about how You spread that news to all people. Thank You that You are still reaching out to each person today.