The text for this sermon comes from Acts 14:19-23.
Intro: There is something that bothers me deep in my spirit. There are many people in churches that treat Jesus as a quantity and not their Lord and Savior. He is a unit of measurement not their Shepherd. They treat him like he is a gallon of milk or packets of sugar. If your view of Jesus happens to stay in a building and you never pick up your Bible, you never pray, you never engage culture with the gospel and all you do is stay at home watching TV and eating Oreos, your Jesus is too safe.
vs. 19 These Jews would not leave Paul and Barnabas alone. It’s like watching American Idol and having the worst singer keep showing up week after week. We learn from this verse that these Jews have followed Paul and Barnabas from Antioch and Iconium. Do these people not have families? Do they not have jobs?
The Jews persuaded (vs. 2 poisoned) the crowds of people. Do you see how fickle people are? Do you see how easily people are swayed? The first little thing that comes along that is enticing, distracting, or tickles the ears, the people turn. One day you want to treat Paul and Barnabas as gods to be worshipped, the next day they are your worst enemies and you want them dead.
The Jews and the people of Lystra stoned Paul. Luke doesn’t tell us if they captured Paul or ambushed him. All we know is that they stoned Paul. Paul’s relationship with Jesus is not based on feelings. Paul’s service and ministry comes out of his love for Jesus. Love is an action not an emotion.They were in such a fit of rage against the gospel and its messengers that this time they did not even bother going to the city officials. Then they dragged him out of the city and dumped his body outside the city gate because they thought he was dead.
vs. 20 The disciples go out to check on him. He gets up! Paul did not die because it is God who numbers our days. God still had much work for Paul to accomplish. The disciples take him back inside the city for the night and the next day, he goes with Barnabas to Derbe.
vs. 21-23 Luke again does not give us an exact time frame of how long Paul and Barnabas were in Derbe. The time does not matter. All that matters is that while they were in Derbe, they made many disciples.
Here is the clincher. Paul and Barnabas turn around and go back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.
Wait a minute! They go back through the cities that persecuted them? They go back through Lystra where Paul was stoned. They go back through the places where rumors and lies were told about them? They go back through the places where they were verbally attacked and offended?
Why are disciples in the church today not this bold? Pride? Fear?
What Paul is doing is normal by Biblical standards. Even expected. In today’s church…not so much.
Paul knows that if he were to die, it would be to glorify Jesus. Paul also knows that if he lives, it is to glorify Jesus. He writes in Phil. 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Paul leaves Derbe and goes right back into the cities that have given him the most opposition. Why? Jesus. Paul loves Jesus. Paul has a relationship with Jesus.
Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. If love was a feeling, Paul would have probably called it quits when he is being pounded by rocks.
In a lot of churches, Jesus and the gospel have been reduced to a non-risky, non-challenging, non-offensive, non-moving, non-engaging, safe, fairy tale. The church in American culture has been reduced to a building where you go to sing for thirty minutes, and listen to a guy talk for twenty minutes and the whole time you are thinking if you can beat other churches to Outback.
Any more passion than that and you get labeled a radical. People ask you questions like, “Don’t you have enough Jesus?”
You want to plant a church? You want to engage culture? You want to go where in Africa? Do you know they eat people there? You want to help poor people? You want to help rescue girls that are being trafficked? You want to help people who don’t have clean water? Don’t you have enough Jesus?
WE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF JESUS!!!
We can’t read enough. We can’t praise him enough. The more we get to know him, the more we want to know him.
When you stand before Christ, you will not be held accountable for how many friends you had. You will not be asked how much money you had or how expensive your car was.
We will be held accountable for whether or not we made disciples.
Jesus gave us the great commission. Matthew 28:18-20.
In the authority given to you by Jesus, RUN with this urgent message of the gospel. Regardless of the cost, regardless of what people say or think, regardless of the verbal persecution, rumors and lies that may be told about you. RUN!!!
Make disciples, passionate, devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you…love God with your whole being, love your neighbor as yourself, teach them how to study, pray, serve, give, teach them it is not about working for Jesus it is about being with Jesus. And when you do these things, I am with you always, to the end of the age.