46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you[a] a light for the Gentiles, that you[b] may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 13 begins with Saul and Barnabas being set aside by the Holy Spirit for the work that He had called them too. And here at the end of the chapter we see the blueprint for Paul’s ministry and the pattern for all who have followed in sharing Jesus to others.
Some will gladly hear and believe, others will oppose and reject not only the message of salvation but reject the messenger (us) as well.
Martyrdom & rejection have been the hallmarks of Christians sharing their faith for millennium. Where equally others, (including myself) have said ‘no thanks’ to this rejection and have kept the salvation that we have received quietly to ourselves.
What has struck me most is the last verse (52) – that despite the persecution and being run out of town .. the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. With the hardship, the sweetness of the presence of God was there, both for Paul and Barnabas and the new believers.
This gives me courage, this gives me purpose. Remembering that the Holy Spirit is with me when sharing my faith. I’m not out there alone! This is His work not mine. I also know the feelings of joy within me that come when leading someone to receive Jesus, let alone hearing their testimony of the spiritual exchange that has just taken place. May I not forget this.
Father I’m sorry for all the times I’ve focused on me, the negatives of personal rejection when sharing my faith or speaking about Jesus to others. Holy Spirit I ask that you would remind me of the joy that will come as you lead and fill me to speak life and the freedom of Jesus to others. May your joy come. Amen.
Written by Suzie Hodgson