Thursday 21 July 2022

Bible Book:

The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. (v. 20)

Acts 14:8-20 Thursday 21 July 2022

Psalm 13


This is one short extract from Paul's many journeys. He usually had a companion, and on this occasion it is Barnabas. The pair had been sent out as envoys by the Church in Jerusalem with authority to preach about Jesus. In some places their work was very successful and in others rather a failure. Eventually Barnabas left Paul after a disagreement about other companions (Acts 15:36-41).

On this occasion their travels have been partly the result of needing to run from angry, attacking crowds in Iconium (in modern-day Turkey). But here in Lystra Paul has performed a miracle and a crippled man has been healed. As a result, the crowd try to worship Paul and Barnabas as Hermes and Zeus (two Greek gods).

They responded by tearing their clothes – which should have made it clear that they regarded the crowd's response as blasphemy. They try to direct people to the worship of the living, true God. Even so, the adoration of the crowd appears to be going to continue.

But mass gatherings are very fickle! And adoration and hatred are very close, especially when people refuse to live up to expectations. It must have taken great courage, after Paul's recovery from his stoning (Acts 14:5), to come back to this town, in order to visit and encourage the new disciples of the area.

Perhaps this persistence is a reflection of God's attitude. Paul becomes known as a missionary and a founder of churches throughout Europe and Asia. Barnabas, the 'encourager', is replaced by other companions. But it is Barnabas who took John Mark (who may have been a Gospel writer) to Cyprus when Paul would have rejected him.

To Ponder:

    • How would you compare the adulation of celebrities with this story? You might also reflect on how people sometimes seem to delight in the failures and mistakes of these same celebrities.
    • How important are companions? Some people choose a spiritual companion to support them in their relationship with God, and meet with them regularly. What are the benefits or disadvantages of this?

Previously published in 2008.


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