Solid rocks in an ocean of waves

Acts 14:8-20

8 While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting 9 and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” 12 They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. 13 Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, 17 but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” 18 But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.

19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

I see a strong contrast in these events… the fickleness of the people of Lystra and the steadfast faith of Paul.

The people of Lystra have just witnessed a miracle. We can see they truly believe it was a miracle because of their response. At the height of their enthusiasm, they seek to sacrifice bulls as an offering to Paul and Barnabas because they assume they must be gods!

But not long after, they are convinced by some Jews that Paul and Barnabas are deceivers and deserving of stoning and death – gods one minute, criminals the next!!

These people are truly like waves tossed by the wind, blowing this way, then that.

We can contrast this with Paul and Barnabas. They are convinced of Jesus’ claim to be the saviour of the world, the Son of God. Nothing will stop them from preaching. Paul is pelted with rocks until he is almost dead, he is revived, then he steadfastly continues on his mission.

What is the difference between these people and Paul? Why are they so fickle while Paul is so steadfast?

Paul had met with Jesus and that meeting left him with no choice but to follow the one who loved him more than anyone else could ever love him.

And I have a feeling that the cripple in this story became steadfast in following Jesus too.

Lord, I want to build my life on a firm foundation so that I am steadfast. You are my firm foundation.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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