Acts 14 v 1 - 20

The first missionary journey continues with Paul and Barnabas moving first to Iconium, about ninety miles on and the familiar story of initial success in preaching in the synagogue followed by a stirring up of the crowd which had come to see what all the noise was about by the Jews and once again they have to move on. Increasingly, they were under threat of their lives as they were travelling further from civilisation and the order which the Roman Empire brought.

They move on to Lystra. Now the people who lived in that area believed that the gods Zeus and Hermes had come to this earth disguised as travelling preachers. No one apart from two peasants would give them any hospitality so the gods wiped out the whole population. When Paul and Barnabas healed the crippled man, they were determined not to make the same mistake! Paul spoke to them, starting from nature to get to the God who was behind it all. He invited them to worship the God who could create such wonders and bring healing to such a man, rather than the messengers of that God.

Paul and Barnabas had created such a furore that it appeared that Jews who opposed them were following them from city to city and causing an uproar. This time the crowd stoned Paul to the extent that they assumed he was dead, panicked about Roman disapproval and carried him outside the city walls so his death would not be their responsibility. The disciples prayed for him, he revived and immediately went back into the city to preach once more. As the great John Wesley stated: ''Always look a mob in the face.'' The bravery of Paul and Barnabas was astounding.

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