We are Human Too
God, I ask that You open my eyes to see You, my lips to praise You, and my hands to share You.
Read ACTS 14:8–20
8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
People who deify Christian leaders can also turn on them!
The farther Paul and Barnabas went into Asia Minor the farther they got from civilization. After legal expulsion in Pisidian Antioch and the threat of a mob lynching at Iconium, they now faced actual violence and the first attempt to kill them. Lystra was the end of the Roman road and nearly the end for them.
There are many parallels in Acts between Peter’s miracles earlier on and Paul’s now. Here the healing of a man, lame from birth, provoked an extraordinary response. Problems of language and culture—a constant missionary challenge—meant that at first Barnabas and Paul had little idea of how this miracle had been understood. In the past it was believed that Zeus and Hermes had come in disguise to Lystra seeking food and shelter but had been rejected by all except one family. They were determined not to repeat the same mistake.
Barnabas, tall, grave and dignified, they deemed to be Zeus and Paul the spokesperson, Hermes, the messenger of the gods. The people prepared to offer sacrifices to them. At last realizing what was happening, Paul and Barnabas were appalled. However, no one likes to be made foolish or have their party called off because there has been a mix-up over the chief guests. Paul and Barnabas tried to clarify the situation, but it was hard to get the message through. When people are determined to have a show they do not easily take to the notion that they had got it all wrong. When Paul’s pursuers caught up and denounced them, it gave the excuse to turn from sacrificing animals to sacrificing strangers and a stoning resulted. The courage of the pair was seen by the fact that they went back into the city before they went on their way!
Do you take time to listen before you speak, to understand before you explain? How can you learn other people’s stories before you share your story of Jesus and his love?
Lord, save me from being misunderstood because of difficulties of language or culture. Help me to learn about others so that I can communicate appropriately with them.