Acts chapter 14 is really the final part of the story of chapter 13. This is the continuation of that same mission. Chapter 13 was very interesting, chapter 14 also doesn’t disappoint. Read Acts chapter 14 and then take a look at my thoughts.
We pick up the story as Paul and Barnabas were still doing what they were called to do, and still attracted some ‘unwanted’ attention. This time instead of being thrown out, they found out about a plot against them so they fled. This is a lesson for us today. We may be tempted to see fleeing as a weakness, but God still used them after they fled. In fact, God used them so much, that you may be inclined to think that God caused the persecution in order to make them flee to get them where He wanted them. This is not true, God doesn’t send bad things, only good. He is just so good at turning things around, that we sometimes mistake the initial bad happening, as coming from God.
Paul then finds a lame man. Have a look at verses 9 and 10, “He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” Firstly, please note that there is no talk of a prayer meeting, Paul didn’t ask God if it was His will that the man be healed. He saw that the man had faith to be healed, so he told him to stand up.. and he did. This is what I believe and where I want to get to. Jesus wants us healed, it is us and our actions that prevent healing. Now I know that some of you are getting ready to write a scathing comment, just hold on. When I have finished this series on Acts, I will post a post of 12 barriers which stop you from receiving healing, you can keep your comments for that. The other interesting part here, is that the man only seems to have the faith after he did something specific. He listened to Paul. Paul was probably teaching, and this man was listening. I reckon that the man’s faith was building as he listened to Paul teach, then he got to the point where he had the faith. What teaching are you listening to? Are you reading scriptures that relate to healing? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17.
Paul and Barnabas then had people trying to make sacrifices to them. Even after all of what they taught, people still tried to worship them and not God. They even went out and explained to the crowd again, but the people still thought that they were gods. The interesting part, is that soon after that, the Jewish leaders managed to change the people’s minds and got them to the point of stoning Paul. How do people go from thinking that someone is a god, seeing miraculous healing, and then having the person stoned. Let this be a lesson to us all. We often see TV evangelists today, even though most of them point to God, we still put them on a pedestal. We then hear something about them (that may or may not be true), and then we bash them down. We can do this to all Christians, not just celebrity ones. Be careful of this, you can see how easy it is for the enemy to change our minds if we are not rooted in the Word of God.
Here is one of my favourite bits. They think that Paul is dead, but after the disciples ‘gathered around him’, he got up and left. Now, it doesn’t actually say what happened hear, but if I may be so bold, I would like to suggest an option. Could Paul have actually been dead? Could the disciples ‘gathering around’ have been them raising him from the dead? Possibly. Either way, this is pretty awesome. To escape a stoning (whether he died or not) and have the people leave assuming that you were dead, and you to get up and leave, is pretty cool. If he did die and was raised from the dead, that is even better. Paul and Barnabas then return to Antioch, from where they started this mission at the beginning of chapter 13. One thing that I have learned here is that when Paul fled, and when he was stoned, God still used him and God was still working things for his good. He either avoided a beating and preached the word, or he survived a stoning to go on and preach the word.
Glory to God!