8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birthand 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.
Although we have union with Christ, we take on his redeemed form of humanity and not his deity. Our flesh is redeemed and our spirit is renewed, but it is not that we become gods. We have strength and abilities that we could only dream of. They are powers for good and not for evil and we need discernment about when to use them.
Paul and Barnabas lived a life walking in the Spirit. When they saw a person who was struggling with spiritual or physical oppression, the Spirit would often move them to action. Healings were not as common in ancient times as a read through the Bible might lead us to believe. Also the healing of someone would be so monumental that it would draw attention.
It is said that in the region above a story was told where the gods visited the region in disguise but found that they were not well-received. In response to not being well-received they brought destruction to the land. To avoid this happening again the people were vigilant. This makes sense of their reaction in declaring the physically impressive Barnabas as Zeus and the primary speaker, Paul, as his messenger.
May we be so aware of the power available to us that we are in danger of being declared gods. Let us know what you want to do in our age and have the will to do it.
- What action did Paul and Barnabas perform that disrupted people?
- How did the people get confused?
- Why do you think things fell apart?
- What acts do Christians perform powerfully today?
- How are Christian acts interpreted?