8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

Acts 14:8–12 ESV Read More

Hold on please, there seems to be a misunderstanding!

Can you imagine? Barnabas and Paul, about 10 years apart in age, have fled to this little village to not get stoned to death in another part of Galatia. They come across a man who can’t walk, just like the guy Peter healed in Jerusalem months ago.

They have preached about Jesus the Messiah. They have talked about God’s forgiveness and the new life in the Holy Spirit that is available to them, and they heal this guy.

And everyone thinks they are Zeus and Hermes.

WUH?

Well remember, in this time period, as in many places today, religion and patriotism went hand in hand. This area of Lystra and Derbe was known to be the location of some events in Ancient Greek mythology involving Zeus and Hermes.

The story told about Zeus and Hermes coming down from Olympus and walking around this area. Nobody would listen to them except for one poor husband and wife. Zeus destroyed everyone in the whole region except for this man and wife, who were turned into giant trees.

When the area was repopulated, the people built a big shrine to Zeus between those two trees and swore that if Zeus ever came back, they were going to listen to him! Archeological digs have turned up all kinds of Zeus temple worship artifacts around this area.

When an old guy with a white beard shows up working miracles and he has a younger guy with him that does all of the talking, Lystra says “We aren’t going to make that mistake again! Who cares what these guys say, we know they are Zeus and Hermes.”

If you’re ever frustrated about telling someone the truth and they still believe whatever bogus thing they want to believe — you’ve been in this kind of situation.

Didn’t Barnabas and Paul give a clear message? I’m pretty sure they did.

Weren’t Barnabas and Paul “prayed up” before they preached? I’m pretty sure they were.

Thankfully, the results of evangelism aren’t always up to us. Yes, we want to be faithful and do the best job we can. Yes, it’s right to cling as close as we can to orthodoxy and preach the truth.

But how people react to our message is also part of their responsibility. Barnabas and Paul stayed faithful to their message. As faithful as they were able, but sometimes people love what they love more than the Truth, even if it’s their fear of Zeus and Hermes.

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