Paul was stoned in Lystra, assumed to be dead, dragged unceremoniously out of the city like a dead animal, revived, and then walked back into the city. What was doing on? It’s incredible that he survived the stoning, but remarkable that he went back to the same town!
On other occasions he “fled” to avoid being caught, but here he is walking right back into the hands of the same folks that just tried to kill him! I am not sure about the difference of running away from a lynching walking back to the same folks, but I am certain that he returned to the city because he was inspired to do so by the Holy Spirit and he was fearless about men could do to him. He saw himself as ready to be sacrificed for Jesus Christ! What love! What devotion! What admiration this man had for Jesus Christ. He had met Jesus and could never deny Him or fail the test of absolute love or loyalty again. What is wrong with the rest of us?!
He was now really a problem for the Jews. He was earlier a mere trouble maker and was stoned because of it—the assumption being that this would either scare him away or kill him. But now he showed his true mettle and proved that we was not going to simply “go away”; the man had no regrets for what he had said and done in the name of Jesus and no regard for men could do to him. My opinion is that his critics were now pretty speechless and dumbfounded. This guy was trouble!
He was now an apostle that stood above most of the others. No one was a fiercer defender of the faith, a more determined and adamant an evangelist or more of a threat to Satan’s work against the growth of Christianity than Paul. It’s one thing to perform miracles in the name of Jesus Christ, but this man was beaten nearly to death with rocks and got right back up and walked straight back as if to to tell them, “Is that all you can do?” Paul was courageous, zealous and on-fire for Jesus! It must have given great strength and hope to those that were also being persecuted, but really riled those who were determined to stamp out the new “religion”.
Why have I written all of this about Paul today? I realize that as a father, friend and pastor I am no Paul, and my sons and friends are the worse off because of it. As I write this I am cognizant of my shortcomings and can see that members of my church, the parents of campers that entrust their children to me, and my friends are all reading this. But it’s true about me—to my shame. I go to bed, every night, keenly aware that I have been far too concerned about my sons loving me and being happy with me than I have been about loving them regardless of their approval of my parenting. I have courted the favor of those I love far too much and have remained silent, or motionless, when I should have “walked right back into the city”, metaphorically.
May God give me the courage and intensity of Saint Paul so that I can be finally empty of me (a glorious departure!) and filled with His Holy Spirit.