We rejoin Paul while in Ephesus for the two years. God is doing amazing things through Paul’s hands.
Paul is heavy with the Holy Spirit. He eats, sleeps and breaths God’s plans for the people. Everyone wants to be near him to receive healing or deliverance through his hands. This “popularity” reminds me of how the people flocked to Jesus. Jesus was the source of Paul’s success so it should direct our attention to Jesus.
Luke tells us that even ordinary everyday articles that touched Paul’s skin were carried away and used to heal the sick. I wonder what prompted the people to try this form of ministry. Did Paul initiate it or did it come about through an encounter by a sick person with a personal item of Paul’s? Did anyone try and organize a ministry using this effect? I have heard of “prayer cloth” ministries now days where a minister will pray over handkerchiefs and such and send them through the mail to be used to convey the power of God in some area of the receiver’s life. I wonder what God thinks of those ministries. Does He bless the ones that are truly doing it as a service to His body? Or does He see them as trying to “cash in” on Him and His power?
There were apparently people in Paul’s day who were trying to “cash in” on the power of Jesus’ name. They had either heard about or personally observed Paul when he was ministering to the people. They recognized a pattern to Paul’s prayers. Paul’s prayers and acts of ministry ALL contained Jesus’ name. He took NO credit for the miracles taking place. He proclaimed them as ALL being done through the power of Jesus’ name.
Those looking to make a name for themselves decided that using the name of Jesus must be Paul’s formula for success. They didn’t take into account the relationship that went with using the name. There IS power in the name of Jesus but only because HE puts it there. It is not simply saying Jesus’ name that shakes Heaven, Earth and even Hell. It is the relationship between the speaker and the Owner of that name. It is me or Paul or any other child of our King reaching out to our loving Father for help by asking His Son to stand in for us.
Let me try and explain it in another way. If I had a light bulb lying on the table I would not expect it to be producing any light at the time. Yes, light bulbs make light but ONLY when connected directly to a source of power. A light bulb (Jesus’ name) can’t light on its own, even though lighting up is what it is expected and designed to do. No matter how beautiful it is or how I coax it, without connecting it to the electrical current (relationship), no light is produced. As soon as I make that connection and activate the switch (prayer), the light bulb can produce light.
This is where the onlookers got themselves in trouble. The seven sons of the Jewish high priest, named Sceva, tried to access Jesus’ power without the relationship behind it. They tried to cast out demons from an afflicted man by “following the verbal formula” they had observed Paul using. Paul invoked Jesus’ name and mountains moved! They invoked Jesus’ name and got laughed at and beaten up. “’Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? ‘ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded” (verse 15-16).
Their lesson was helpful for Paul though. This epic failure became public knowledge and spurred others to join Paul in his belief in Jesus. No one wanted to try that again. Jesus’ name gained a healthy respect and many more people came to believe in Him. Magic and sorcery lost a LOT of practitioners after that event. Fifty Thousand pieces of silver was the value for the magic books that were burned as a result of recognizing where THE true power source was.
Because of Paul’s relationship with Jesus and God’s power and plan MANY people were reached in the town of Ephesus. Thank You Father for those brothers and sisters!
Father God, I can do NOTHING without being “plugged into” Your source of life too. I know I’m nothing without Your words and deeds bearing witness to You loving connection to me. I KNOW I can’t use You like my personal “light switch” but I also know that the power is ALWAYS there and available. NO power outages when it comes to You. Help me keep plugged in at all times and show me the right switches to activate in my life.