Understanding Acts | From Gods to Dogs | Acts 14.8-20 | Movementministriesblog.com

by | Jan 25, 2023

“In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. 11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” Acts 14.8-20

Human idolatry never lasts. Think about over your life and consider who were some “American Idols,” and I don’t mean the TV show! Elvis, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe were everything in the 50’s and 60’s. But today, young people hardly could recognize “Yesterday” sung by Paul McCartney, a song- according to Google, has been recorded by more than 3,000 different artists!

Paul and Barnabas were even greater than rockstars, they were thought to be gods by the people of Lystra. After healing a man born lame, the people tried to elevate the disciples to god-like status shouting, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” The disciples, loving Jesus and knowing that only he is god, immediately rebuked this message saying, “We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news….of a God who made the heavens the the earth.” (They certainly didn’t want what happened to Herod in Acts 12, the people said he was a god and he was immediately struck down by God, to happen to them!)

And yet, “even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them,” v.18. However, with a quick turn of events, Jews from Antioch and Iconium came, willing the crowd over, they turned the favor away from the disciples – stoning Paul and dragging him out of the city. Therefore, I’ve titled this reflection “From Gods to dogs,” because of the way they were treated in Lystra.

We must be very careful of public opinion. What the world thinks of us does not matter. What God says about us should become our identity. It is often so nice to receive human praise but if we are not careful, we will begin to falsely put our trust in it. As James 4.10 says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” Who we are is defined by a God who loves us and made us in His image, period.

So today, remember that our identity comes from Christ alone. He is our source and our strength. You matter not because of what others say about you but because of who you are in Christ. Thanks be to God to a God who love us, died and rose again, so that we might have life today and life to come!

“Oh Father, how easily it is to find identity in what others think about me. But fame and fortune is so fleeting. Our worldly wealth, or lack of, fades so fast. For your Word endures forever. Come now, Holy Spirit, find me humble and willing to receive your praise. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen