I don’t know if it was my ravishing good looks or my personality. When I walked into the hospital room, the family thought I was a doctor. I was new to the church and very few of the extended family knew who I was. The extended family had not even met the doctor!
But I set them straight quickly. I was not the doctor. I would not be ordering any tests for their loved one. I would not be billing them for their time. I was in the hospital room to pray with their family member. Thankfully, the doctor did arrive in a few moments and everyone was relieved that I was not the doctor!
We find Paul and Barnabas also being mistaken for people they were not. There was not relief for Paul and Barnabas. In fact, the whole situation became worse for Paul and Barnabas. Even though it was a case of mistaken identity, Paul and Barnabas kept on proclaiming the good news. If they could keep on proclaiming the good news, then so can we. I hope you are strengthened and encouraged to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
We find strength and encouragement from knowing this story of Paul and Barnabas.
A. It is another day and another town, and they are still proclaiming the good news (14:8-19)
1. They had travelled less than 50 miles from Iconium to Lystra
2. Paul noticed a man listening to him – the man had faith to be healed!
3. The man had been born crippled in his feet
4. Paul tells the man, “Stand upright on your feet.”
5. The man sprang up and began to walk!
6. The people of Lystra thought Zeus and Hermes were visiting them again!
7. They even wanted to celebrate this visit of the gods
8. Paul & Barnabas tried to set them straight
9. Paul told them to turn from these worthless things to the living God!
10. This only kept the crowd back a bit
11. As we are proclaiming the good news about Jesus, may we not be mistaken for other gods! I am sure this is not the reason we do not speak about Jesus. Isn’t it a good idea for us to speak about Jesus? I am not sure we could face what Paul and Barnabas faced. For if we did, would we continue to proclaim the good news about Jesus?
B. The opposition to Paul and Barnabas continued (14:19-20)
1. Jews from Antioch and Iconium followed Paul and Barnabas
2. These Jews and the crown in Lystra stoned Paul, even thinking he was dead!
3. The one who was told by Ananias that he would suffer much for Jesus, got up!
4. He travelled with Barnabas 60 miles to get to Derbe!
5. Yes, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is dangerous. People will oppose you. People inside the church will oppose you. People in the community will oppose you. If the crowd does something to us, will we get up and continue on proclaiming the good news? We do strengthen and encourage each other to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Even when there is opposition, we keep proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. So, what do we do when opposition comes?
C. Here comes another surprise! (14:21-23)
1. After however long Paul and Barnabas were in Derbe, they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch!
2. What did Paul and Barnabas do this time in these cities?
a. Strengthen the souls of the disciples – opposition comes, but we keep on believing Jesus Christ!
b. Encouraged them to continue in the faith – our faith will be tested
c. “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
d. Whenever we proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ, people will oppose us
3. Paul and Barnabas entrusted their leaders, the elders, to the Lord!
4. We keep proclaiming the good news. God has good things for us. The best thing God has for us is Jesus. He gave him up so we may have life. Even when people opposes us, we tell them about Jesus. Even when they hurt us, we tell the crowds about Jesus. Jesus died on a cross. What do we think will happen to those who follow Jesus?
A case of mistaken identity may happen when we speak about Jesus Christ. When we don’t match up to some other god, then people will know we believe in Jesus. Then as we are opposed by the crowds, we keep on proclaiming the good news about Jesus.
Does this mean that if we are not being persecuted, we are not living like Jesus? If we are not being persecuted, does it mean we are not living our faith? Let’s at least rejoice for a time as we are not being persecuted for proclaiming Jesus Christ. For as we speak about Jesus Christ, persecution will come. “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Are you ready to speak about Jesus? You can get through whatever trouble people throw at you. You can know that your faith in God won’t be hurt as you speak about Jesus. People may try to hurt you. People may actually hurt you. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus is worth any bad-mouthing or pain you receive. Go, speak about Jesus!