27 July 2019Acts 14:8-20
And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. (vv. 9b-10)
Psalm: Psalm 13
In this passage, Paul and Barnabas are in Lystra, a place where pagan practices were common. (Lystra is in central Anatolia, present-day Turkey.) After Paul had healed a lame person there, he and Barnabas were treated as if they were gods. As much as they emphasised that they were merely mortal, the people of Lystra continued to think of them as gods. This was, in part, because of the history of Lystra where there was a legend that the Zeus and Hermes had come incognito to visit the town and none would give them hospitality except two old peasants. The whole population, except the two peasants, were wiped out. So the population of Lystra was probably eager that no such thing should happen to them again.
This passage shows how Paul and Barnabas approached a community of people with no background in Judaism, no point of reference for a monotheistic faith. Firstly they were forthright in almost commanding the lame man to stand up and walk - their authority was clearly displayed for all to see (verse 10). And the man responded immediately. Secondly, Paul started from the people's knowledge and appreciation of the working of nature - rain and sun, seedtime and harvest (verse 17).
- Paul and Barnabas, although in a challenging environment, spoke with authority to the lame man. How diffident as you in witnessing to people with no background in the faith? What steps make you make to rectify this?
- Paul and Barnabas used nature as his starting point in seeking to lead the people of Lystra to God. Have modern western people so lost their awe of the natural world that this is no longer a helpful starting point for evangelism? How can we rekindle this awe of the natural world? Or, alternatively, what might be an appropriate starting point in order to connect with people?