The First Missionary Journey Continues
October 28 - Nº 301 Acts 14
After being chased from Antioch Pisidium, Barnabas and Paul went to Iconium. Once again, they entered a Jewish synagogue and explained that Jesus was the Messiah. The reactions were extreme. Many Jews and Gentiles put their faith in Jesus. But the Jews who didn’t believe became very angry. They stirred up those who did not believe and turned them against the two outsiders. But Barnabas and Paul did not leave. They stayed and spoke boldly and performed many miracles. Soon the whole city was in an uproar. When the two missionaries found out that some of the city leaders planned to stone them, they fled to Lystra where they continued sharing the Gospel message. In the audience at Lystra, there was a man who had been lame from his birth. He listened carefully to everything Paul said. Paul looked at him and realized that he had the faith to be healed, so he called out to him, “Stand up!” Immediately the man stood up and started walking. When the crowd saw this, they began yelling, “The gods have come down to visit us in human form!” They thought that Paul was the Greek god Hermes, since he was the spokesman, and that Barnabas was Zeus. A pagan priest from a nearby temple brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates. He planned to help the people offer sacrifices to the two men. This horrified the apostles. They ripped their clothes to show their disapproval and ran among the people saying, “Why are you doing this? We are men just like you. We are here to bring you good news about how you can know the one true God—the only God there is!” During the commotion, the Jews who had chased Barnabas and Paul out of Antioch Pisidium and Iconium arrived. They had pursued the two men hoping to chase them out of the country. It didn’t take long for them to turn the fickle crowd against Barnabas and Paul. The angry mob stoned Paul and dragged his body outside the city gates thinking he was dead. The new believers gathered around his body. As they stood there mourning his death, suddenly and miraculously he got up and walked back into the city! The next day, Paul and Barnabas left. They traveled to a city called Derbe. There, many people put their faith in Jesus. When the two men left Derbe, they traveled back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch Pisidium—the very same cities where they had just faced terrible persecution! They appointed leaders and encouraged the believers in these new Galatian churches to stay strong despite the hardships they would inevitably face. Then they headed home to the church in Antioch of Syria that had commissioned them to go on the very first missionary journey. When they arrived, everyone gathered to hear what God had done during the two years Barnabas and Paul had been gone. They shared the amazing things they had witnessed as God opened doors in Galatia and brought the message of Jesus to the Gentile world. They knew they had completed the work that the church had sent them to do.
Many times, it would have been easy for Barnabas and Paul to give up and go home. But they didn’t! When they finally did return home, they were battered and bruised. But they were filled with joy for all that God had accomplished through them. Do you value God’s work more than your own welfare? So many people in the Bible did! Why shouldn’t we?