God Knows…When Somebody Doesn’t Trust Me – Part 2
After the ruler of Cyprus was converted, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark took a boat again, this time to Perga (in what is now Turkey). Things were rough. Sore feet, different food and sometimes not enough of it, bone tiredness after walking all day, sometimes a biting wind to face, hard beds, dangers of various kinds—it was not a pleasure trip taken for the fun of it. Paul and Barnabas had learned to trust God, and the love of a shepherd searching for lost sheep kept them going. But for John Mark, who was much younger, it was a different story.
Sick and tired of the whole thing, Mark refused to go on. Fear and discouragement won out. He packed up and went back home to Jerusalem.
Paul wasn’t happy about this at all. For a long time he had a poor opinion of John Mark. John Mark gave this a lot of thought. He must have wondered if Paul would ever forgive him for being a quitter and letting him down.
Paul and Barnabas pushed on in their adventures for Christ. Crossing the Taurus range of mountains, they arrived in Antioch. But they weren’t home yet. This was a different Antioch, more than 500 miles (800 km) from home.
On the Sabbath, Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue. As he had heard Stephen do so long before, Paul traced the hand of God down through history. All history had pointed to the coming of Christ. When He came, He was rejected and crucified. But even this could not defeat God’s goals. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and through Him forgiveness is available for every sin. Paul preached the good news that Jesus offers salvation to each person, not just one certain group of people.
Success and Trouble
Many people requested that Paul preach again the next week. And when the next week came, nearly the whole city gathered to hear the word of God. This made some of the religious leaders jealous. They began talking against Paul. As they saw many people telling others the good news, they expelled Paul and Barnabas from the district. The two missionaries traveled on to Iconium.
As usual, Paul and Barnabas started preaching in the synagogue when they arrived. A great crowd believed. But here again was resistance. The local population was torn in two. Those that sided against the missionaries determined to stone them. Learning of the plans, Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra.
Lystra had no synagogue. Instead it had a temple for a god named Jupiter. Most of the people in the Lystra area didn’t know about the true God. But some were willing to listen. Among them was a crippled man. As Paul described the work of Christ on earth, he could see that this man believed. “Stand up straight on your feet!” Paul said. And the man stood up for the first time in his life. Paul had been directing the attention of the people to God, the Creator, and to His power shown in the universe. Now they saw His power at close range as the man leaped and walked.
But the crowd missed the connection. They jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought Paul and Barnabas were gods themselves! Barnabas they called Jupiter, the father of Gods. They decided Paul was Mercury because he was the chief speaker. Some of them ran find the priest of Jupiter and they came back with oxen decorated with flower garlands. They planned to sacrifice the oxen in honor of the “gods.”
When Paul and Barnabas realized what was happening, they didn’t sit by and quietly soak up this misplaced honor. In a loud, clear voice, Paul told them that he and Barnabas were only human. They had come to turn the people to the true God as the only one who deserves worship. The people had been so excited and sure that the men were gods, they didn’t want to believe Paul’s words. Paul was barely able to stop the shouting crowd from carrying out their plans.
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