Paul and Barnabas saunter into Lystra and begin speaking about Christ. It doesn’t say anything about a synagogue so they are probably in the streets or a public square. As Paul is speaking he notices a particular crippled man – most likely a local beggar because we are told he had been lame from birth and had never walked.
The man was listening to Paul and Paul could tell faith was building within the man – (Is this something you can see or sense or maybe the Holy Spirit reveals?) Regardless Paul is sure – sure enough to shout directly to the man, “Stand upright on your feet.”
And in response the man sprang up and began walking! Okay now here’s a sight to behold and the crowds take notice. They lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
They quickly call Barnabus Zeus and name Paul Hermes. Well, they gotta go with what they know and they knew about Greek gods. How else does one explain the super natural? There was a temple to Hermes at the gate of the city. Legends state this father and son pair had visited the area before as “men” and had found no one to welcome them. It did not turn out well for the townsfolk then. I’m sure that was not a mistake they were prepared to let happen again. Ergo… they brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
I don’t think Paul and Barnabas were expecting this. Being from a Jewish culture they were appalled – they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things?
Having to think quickly they tried to focus the conversation on God and not themselves. We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living god.
Though they described God in terms they believed the Lycaonians would understand, they could hardly restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
What a predicament! The text for today stops here in a cliff hanger. So what impresses me to this point?
There is the tendency to think P & B might have been unprepared to address this Gentile culture. We make assumptions based on our own understanding and naively think cultures, completely unknown to us, will make the right connections. NOT! So, for future reference – take some time to know the person I want to tell about Jesus.
Makes me wonder, at this point, what happens to the crippled man? He was leaning toward faith – did he get lost in the crowd? Maybe he was not the only one who actually heard the Gospel. There had been some proclaiming going on before the “crowd went wild” and spun off into crazy land. So, for future reference – even if things go bonkers the Good News is out there; it is God’s business to make it live.
Nothing is a surprise to Him.
“Be prepared” is not just for Boy Scouts.
About the World?
Sometimes the crowd goes wild.