In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
A man disabled from birth! What use was he? He was a drain on society. He was not working. He was worthless.
Do those words frighten you? Do they make you think of how you view others? Do you judge people by their worth to society, by the colour of their skin, by their gender, by their sexuality, or by how valuable they are in God’s eyes?
I can think of two people who might wonder about this. My wife struggles with balance so uses a wheelchair. I push the wheelchair and we both observe people, many people speak to us, far more than did when we were both walking. Are they embarrassed and feeling guilty? I have a weak right arm and hand, I often feel embarrassed and awkward when eating a meal with other people as I can’t hold a knife “properly”. I recently discovered that this is because I had polio as a baby.
Think of this person. He needed to get on with his life and somehow survive. Imagine how he felt when Paul told him to stand up and he did so. His life was transformed, suddenly and miraculously he was a “normal” person. We can imagine how he felt and we know that the crowds decided that Paul and Barnabas were gods. These crowds were wrong, Paul was not a god, but he was a servant God. He told the crowds to turn away from false gods and to follow “the living God”.
The same crowds then changed and tried to kill Paul. It is so easy for a crowd to be turned away from the truth. We need to make sure that we are not like that crowd, easily swayed one way then the other. We need to remain true followers of the one true God.
Living God I thank You for all You do for me, Let me see Your actions in my life and in the lives of others, Help me to remain true to you and not be swayed from the truth by crowds or by great speakers. Lead me in truth and in the light of Jesus. Help me to tell others about You In the name of Jesus Amen