Intro. Paul and Barnabas are in Lystra and evidently witnessing on the streets. There is a lame man in the crowd who has never before walked in his entire life, and Paul perceived that the man had the faith to be healed, and said to Him in a loud voice, "Stand straight up on your feet." And the man leaped up and began to walk.
I. THE REACTION OF THE CROWD. THEY THOUGHT THAT THE GODS HAD COME DOWN IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN.
A. They thought that Barnabas was Jupiter and that Paul was Mecury.
1. These are the Roman names of the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes.
2. The Lyconians had a legend that Zeus and Hermes had once come to the earth disguised as men, and that no one would give them hospitality except two old peasants, Philemon and his wife Baucis. As a result the whole community were wiped out with the exception of Philemon and his wife who were made the guardians of a splendid temple, and at their death were turned into trees on either side of the temple gate so that they might continue to watch it.
3. The people of Lystra were not about to make the same mistake again.
B. Barnabas must have been large and distinctive looking in that they thought he was Zeus.
C. On the other hand, Paul must have been smaller and was the chief spokesman, so they thought he was Hermes.
D. It seems that men often want to honor the instrument that God has used to touch their lives, and seek to exalt them.
1. When Peter had spoken the word of faith, the lame man at the beautiful gate of the Temple, the Jews were looking at him in amazement, and Peter had to turn their eyes off of Him and on to Jesus.
2. We are to be as satellites reflecting the glory of Jesus to this dark world. We have no light of our own, but seek to reflect His light. We are to be like mirrors, the only time a mirror draws attention to itself is when it is dirty or is defective.
E. This is the reason that one of the main criteria for the ministry is to come to the cross in your own life, where you have no ambitions for yourself, but have reckoned yourself to be crucified with Christ. Dead unto sin that the body should no longer reign as king over you.
F. Many a man has been set aside by God and is no longer in the ministry because he took the praise of the people unto himself.
G. We had just studied about Herod who when the men of Tyre were crying, "It is the voice of a god and not a man," That the angel of the Lord smote him and he died, and we read, "Because he gave not God the glory."
H. You who may have a desire to be used by God in the ministry. The first suggestion I have is to search your heart for your motive to be in the ministry.
1. Paul suggests that we examine ourselves, for if we judge ourselves, we will not be judged by God.
2. There are some in the ministry in order to fulfill some psychological need in their life.
3. Others look on it as a good profession.
4. I believe that the ministry is a calling, and only those who are sure of the call of God on their lives should ever endeavor to enter the ministry
II. "AND THE PRIEST OF JUPITER, WHICH WAS BEFORE THEIR CITY."
A. Quite often in the ancient cities, on the gates to the cities, they had carved images of the chief god of that city.
1. It is thought that this is what is being referred to here in the declaration that Jupiter was before their city.
B. He was coming down the street with oxen and garlands to make a sacrifice with the people to Paul and Barnabas.
1. Evidently someone had run up the street to the temple of Jupiter to inform him that his god had come down to visit to the city.
2. He was preparing to offer the oxen as sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.
3. The people had been speaking the language of the Lyconians and is quite possible that Paul and Barnabas were ignorant as to what was going on until the priest started to slaughter the oxen.
4. When they realized what was happening they tore their clothes and ran among the people to stop them.
a. The tearing of the clothes was a sign of great distress.
b. It was something that was often done at the news of the death of a close friend or loved one.
c. The prophet Joel called on the people:
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
C. Paul and Barnabas said to the people, "Why do you do these things? We are men of like passions as you."
1. We are not gods, we are just men.
2. Oh, that ministers would understand this. Being a minister does not give me an immunity from temptations.
3. It does not put us in a special category.
4. Wearing a robe and a backwards collar does not make me holy.
D. Jesus gave a warning about these very things.
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.
And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
E. Jesus said to His disciples when James and John asked for exhalted places in the kingdom.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared.
And when the ten heard [it], they began to be much displeased with James and John.
But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
F. When we stand before God we all stand on the same level. I do not stand on one level and you on another, we all stand together before God on one level, and that is of a sinner saved by grace.
1. There is no respecter of persons with God.
2. He is just as interested in you as He is me.
3. You are special to God, I am special to God, I am no more special to Him than you.
G. John is called the beloved disciple. He is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Who is it that calls him the disciple that Jesus loved?
1. That phrase is only found in one gospel. Can you guess which one?
2. In the gospel of John.
3. None of the other gospels make reference to him as such, only he.
4. You say, "That's egotistical, no it is wonderful that he felt so loved by Jesus. You need to know that you are the disciple that Jesus loves. You are special to Him, and it is important that you know that.
III. THIS WEEK WE SEE THE PEOPLE OF LYSTRA READY TO HONOR PAUL AS GOD. NEXT WEEK WE WILL SEE THEM STONING HIM, SEEKING TO KILL HIM. WE WILL COME TO UNDERSTAND WHY PAUL SPEAKS OF VAIN GLORY.