In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame 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 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd 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 bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 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.” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. – Acts 14:8-18
Martin Luther was a Christian pastor, teacher, and writer who lived about the same time as Christopher Columbus. His greatest gift to the Church was to point people back to the basics of the Bible and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Another of his valued teachings was the doctrine of “vocation” – the ways God works through people in their different occupations to accomplish his will.
An example of this doctrine in action would be the writing of this article. I wrote this article, but I needed the help of the company who made my computer, the communications business that sent the article via the internet, and the utility company that supplied electricity so that all of this could take place. Even though all of these people, and many more, played their part so that this devotion could be transmitted to you, it could properly be said that God has given you this devotion to read – he just used all of us to make it happen.
Such was the case when Paul and Barnabas went to the city of Lystra. They healed a man who believed the good news of Jesus and trusted in God’s ability to help him. The Lord used Paul and Barnabas – ordinary people just like you and me – to accomplish his loving purpose. What a great gift from God!
Unfortunately, the people of the city misunderstood the miracle that Paul and Barnabas performed. Instead of giving God the credit and believing in him, they thought Paul and Barnabas were gods. What a tragic mistake! Paul pointed the people back to the true God. He pointed to the evidence of God’s kindness and mercy shown in his beautiful creation. He assured them that God wanted to bring joy into their lives.
God also wants you to understand his loving kindness. So there would be no confusion, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus is true man. Jesus is also true God. He needed to be a man so that he could live under God’s law and keep it perfectly for us. He needed to be true God so that his payment for sin on the cross would cover the sins of all people. When we look at Jesus, we see what our God is really like.
Open your eyes today to see the ways that our loving God serves you through the work of other people. I think you will be amazed when you take time to consider how well he takes care of you. But also remember how Jesus Christ has served you. He is the Son of God who has come to show you God’s love.