Summary: This sermon is to remind us that people can praise our work one moment, then persecute us the next.
FROM PRAISE TO PERSECUTION
As we looked at these very scriptures on last week, it was moved in my spirit that the Lord was not through with the text. Last week we saw these great men of God taking the gospel message into the cities of Derby and Lystra. There they were face with a man that had no power in his feet, who was considered a cripple and had never walked a step in his life. The encouraging thing is that he was not one to feel sorry for himself, because he did not ask these missionaries of Christ for a healing, he didn’t even ask for some money or had a pitiful look on his face. All he did was to put himself into position to be blessed and then fixed his attention on the very words that Paul spoke and in that, Paul realized that the man had the faith to be healed. So, the attention that he gave to the message, was the attention he got from the messenger of the word, whom being filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke to him with the Holy boldness from within, to stand upright on his feet, and the text said that he heard that he “leaped and walked.”
In this lesson, we will see the reaction of those who saw this miracle, and their misread of whom Paul and Barnabas truly represented. They after seeing this miracle displayed, set out within their heart to make Paul and Barnabas earthly gods. Their intentions from the casual observer may appear to be admirable, but they fell to realize the seriousness of such a thought.
So come as we look at how these gospel messengers fell from praise to persecution.
First of all . . .
1. THEY SAW THE MIRACLE, BUT NEVER HEARD THE WORD (V.11)
“And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”
In the text I observed, the people seeing without hearing. Paul had just finished preaching a powerful message from the Lord. It was so powerful that the impotent man that heard it was spell bound and received enough faith from it to be healed when the opportunity availed itself. But everyone in their presence did not receive what he did. It is much like in our congregations. There are people that come to church that miss the most important part of the worship experience and that is the Word of God. Now don’t get me wrong because if you come expecting a blessing you will receive a blessing, but if you go to church just for the sake of going, all you will receive is a good Sunday morning ride and a chance to see some people that you might not have seen all week.
Now although they did not pay attention to the message, they did pay attention to the miracle that was done. I hope you can understand that when we ignore the message, we set ourselves up to make bad decisions. Their lack of hearing the word allowed them to continue in the way they were going. They were people of superstition and they believed in Greek gods. They were satisfied with whom and what they believed in. So when Paul and Barnabas presented to them the gospel truth, they did not hear it and wanted to make them what they were not.
Secondly . . .
2. THEY CHOSE TO MAKE THEM EARTHLY GODS OF GREEK ORIGIN
“ And they called Barnabas Jupiter; and Paul Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13. Then the priest of Jupiter whose temple was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people”;
My brothers and sisters, there are times in our lives that we try to be, or someone will attempt to make us what we are not. In the text we find that although Paul and Barnabas exhibited Godly powers to heal the man that was disabled, that did not make them God. Let me illustrate. Since July I have been learning how to play golf. I’ve learned the proper grip, how to address the ball and I even learned the proper motion of the back swing and the down swing of the club. I’m chipping to the green from 100 yards and in and I’ve learned lag putting and how to proper put by just moving my hands and should instead of moving my arms. I’m playing well enough to be encouraged by my instructor to start preparing for my handicap. But with all that I have learned, that does not put me in the class of Deacon Sykes or my brother-in-law Elder Calvin Ashcraft. At best, I am still a novice and I would be hallucinating to compare my game to theirs. They are the real deals and I am the want to be. Likewise in the text, the people saw the miracle with the disabled man and they thought it would be proper to make them out of a god of the Greek origin. They fail to understand that Paul and Barnabas were representing the One who could give power to anyone He chose. They also fail to realize that their power came through them not from them, and Paul and Barnabas were simply vessels used by God and not God Himself. So they lifted up their voices saying “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” But look what else happened. Their priest from the local temple came down with oxen and garland preparing to make a sacrifice unto them with the people. That is when Paul and Barnabas had heard enough. They tore they clothes and ran down to the people letting them know that they were men of flesh and bone just like themselves, and that my brothers and sisters was the beginning of the end of them receiving praise.