By: Rex Stump
In Acts 13, Paul, Barnabas, and their companions begin their first missionary journey together. They shared with the Jews and the Gentiles, as they believed the Good News was for everyone!
The Good News we have of Jesus Christ is not just for good people, religious people, or people who we think deserve God’s love. The Good News is for the world! But unfortunately, not everyone wants to hear the Good News.
While in Antioch, a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, brought a strong opposition to Paul.
The tension grew to a point where the mob decided to attack and stone them. When Paul learned of it, they fled to the towns of Lystra and the surrounding area.
In Lystra, Paul healed a man crippled at birth. The townspeople were so excited, they began to worship Paul and Barnabas, claiming they were gods!
Paul and Barnabas did all they could to get this crowd to stop worshipping them and instead, worship God alone.
About this same time, some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium (the ones who opposed Paul) and persuaded the crowds that Paul and Barnabas were evil.
These men traveled around 150 miles just to make sure Paul and Barnabas’ message was not received! They hated the Gospel this much!
They turned the crowds against Paul! This is a dramatic demonstration of how fickle a crowd can be.
Their admiration of the miracle and desire to honor Paul and Barnabas as gods did not last long. In Acts 14:19 we read, “They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town.”
What? Read that again! They stoned Paul. Bruised and bleeding, appearing to be dead, they dragged his body out of town to rot. Key phrase, “Appeared to be dead.” Nope!
Paul got up and was strong enough to go back into town! What? Are you nuts? We don’t know where he went, if he became visible to those stoning him, or if he just went into a house to lie down and recover. We just know he got back up and went back into town.
Later Paul would write to the people of Corinth a couple letters. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 Paul writes: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.”
“We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
You may be facing adversity, because of your faith. You may have opposition, because of your faith. Like Paul and Barnabas, are you willing to face death? When opposition hits your like a stone, will you get back up?
Do you realize that God never abandons us? Despite the situation, the adversity and opposition you face, God is there with you. In our suffering, people will see Jesus! Read 2 Corinthians 4:10 again!
I encourage you, take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world! Don’t be surprised if you face opposition.
Adversity and opposition have a way of making us refocus on Jesus. Stay the course, stay faithful, and stand strong. God is with you!
Rex Stump is the Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and serves as a Pastor at True North Church in Wauseon, Ohio.