Paul started his missionary work in Iconium by speaking in the synagogue. Some unbelieving Jews and Gentile leaders decided to stone Paul and Barnabus as they were a threat to the Jews' belief in the old law.
Paul and Barnabus fled to Lystra and Derbe and continued to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. When Paul cured the crippled man, crowds who witnessed it decided he and Barnabus must be gods. The disciples protested claiming their mortality and the blessings of the living God.
The, Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city and left him for dead. Paul survived and went on to Derbe with Barnabus.
They continued preaching in Lystra, Antioch and Iconium and strengthened the faith of the believers. They told them “many persecutions” would be necessary to enter the kingdom of God. They appointed elders to continue with the growth of the church and continued through Asia Minor and back to Antioch. They reported all that God had done and how he had opened the door of faith for the Gentiles.
As I read about the people of Lystra and their assumption that Paul and Barnabus must be gods because of what God did through them, I wondered: How many times are we fooled into thinking an ordinary person must be special because of how he looks or what he does? Why are so many in this culture enamored with celebrity as something truly valuable, god-like. Paul reminds us that we are all sharing in God’s blessings of sun, earth, rain, etc. They tore their clothes to demonstrate their unimportance. It’s difficult to remain aware of God’s blessings and not fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Are we willing to suffer “many persecutions” for the kingdom of God? What does it take to stand up for what we believe even when it’s unpopular? Will we allow society and culture to dictate how we act or go the way we know we must to be true to our beliefs? Difficult questions – then and now.