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May 15, 2020

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Bible Gemz 1627 - Remarkably that Chaotic Second Sermon was still Successful (Acts 13:42-52)

February 25, 2019

 

As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. 

Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God. 

The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. 

But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said. 

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, "It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 

For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'" 

When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. 

So the Lord's message spread throughout that region. 

Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. 

So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. 

And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:42-52) 

 

 

The first sermon preached in Antioch in Pisidia was a huge success in the initial stages. Seemingly from both Jew and Gentile perspectives the people wanted to hear more.  We don’t know which people asked to hear more. Whether it was those in authority, city leaders or religious leaders or whether it was numbers of the crowd as they left. But we are told that both Jews and devout converts (non-Jews) followed Paul and Barnabas asking for more. The next week (read Sabbath) they spoke again at which almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach. How many people lived in Pisidian Antioch at the time? I can't tell you because E-Sword is not working on my computer at the moment and I am not at home in my library in NZ. I would dearly love to know because my mind turns to the logistics of what happened here. They go back to the synagogue again the next Sabbath and almost the whole city turns out. It is for sure that the size of the crowd that second Sabbath was awe-inspiring. Certainly they could not have fitted into the synagogue but spilled out into the streets. My mind boggles as to how the people even heard what Paul and Barnabas had to say – assuming Barnabas got to say something. They did not have microphones nor cctv which relayed the message to those outside. The sermon from the week before had so impressed everyone that they turned out in huge numbers. Neither could they all get a copy of the message on cd or memory stick the next week. They could not have waited for the podcast to be uploaded either. Just stop and think about this. I have been in a situation where the crowd was too large for everyone to hear and could hear someone else relaying the message on for those who couldn't hear first hand - not ideal but somewhat workable. 

 

I for one would love to know what Paul said on this second sabbath but Luke doesn't tell us. We are just like those who were out-of-ear-shot on the day.  When you are preaching and someone else is talking your sermon back to you it is rather disconcerting. But that is from my point of view with a much smaller crowd than was described here. Paul must have had to concentrate well in order to be able to continue the message he was preaching. Aside from that Luke tells us that some of the Jews were arguing over whatever Paul said and clearly interjecting. I have been in that situation too where people are interjecting and arguing against what I was saying in the middle of the teaching. That too makes it hard to deliver the message you are bringing. When people argue with you and counter what you are saying the volume tends to raise and their points of opposition are shouted out. I have not been in the situation Paul was in where both of these things are happening at once. It must have been chaos. 

 

We are not told what percentage of the Jews embraced the message and what percentage rejected it. But clearly at the first sermon they all wanted to hear more – both Jews and Gentiles. But the following week, "some of the Jews were jealous when they saw the crowds; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said". What a bizarre situation.  It is always a small vocal few who ruin it for the majority. That happened here in the city we are in last Friday. They shouted down everything in an attempt to get their own point of view heard. No matter how off base it is. That is exactly what happened to Paul and Silas that second Sabbath in Antioch of Pisidia. Despite the obstacles to hearing the message it was taken and spread throughout that region.

For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'" 

When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. 

So the Lord's message spread throughout that region. 

 

Look at how amazing those words are! Despite there being chaos at the time the message was delivered it still went far beyond that synagogue and the people who were gathered there that day. That’s incredible. The message spread by word of mouth even though not all ears had heard it in the first instance. 

 

This message in Antioch in Pisidia was also a turning point. It is the moment when God reinforces in Paul that he has been called to take the message to the Gentiles. 

"It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 

For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’"  

 

How incredibly sad that "some Jews” could influence the outcome of this sermon to the point where Paul, Barnabas and God, move on to take the message to Gentiles rather than Jews. What was the reason? Simply because some Jews were jealous over the number of people who turned up to hear the sermon on that second day. You are kidding me! No, that is what Luke tells us happened. The reason they stirred up trouble was because they were jealous over how many people came out to hear Paul that second time. Be careful – the things that are hidden in your heart will find a way to manifest themselves. These Jews who stood in opposition to Paul did so not because of what he said but because of the size of the crowd he drew. I have met people like that in my life, where the success I may have had was the catalyst to stirring them to oppose me. It has nothing to do with the accuracy of the message or the power of what was said. Rather it has everything to do with the jealousy hidden in human hearts. Once again I say: Be careful. That inner motivation was enough to turn the gospel toward the Gentiles and to cause "the Jews” to run Paul and Silas out of town. Note: it was not all Jews, just some Jews who were jealous – likely the leaders. It is most likely leaders who get jealous about how many people turn out to hear someone else preach. The masses don’t worry about such things. But the masses were caught up in it and the outcome of it because they didn't protest and maintain their own perspective and insist on hearing for themselves. Now that is even sadder. 

 

There is much more to say about all of this but as it my birthday today I will stop early. I will also leave some of the things hanging to see what things you want to pick up on. Like those who “heard” this sermon in Antioch were left with questions so too you will be. Voice your questions in order to make your point and be heard. It is up to you. The ball is in your court now. Also enough of you have picked up on one verse in this passage and asked for explanation to motivate me to address the issue. Can you guess which verse it is?

 

There are three verses that I intend to make comment on before we move on. See if in the end your queries are among them. Write to me and tell me the questions you may have on this section and I will attempt to address your questions in what I have to say. 

 

 

If you aren't big enough to stand criticism, you're too small to be praised. Earl Deason

 

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Stop running to those who ignore you and start running to those who adore you. Ian

 

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. Nelson Mandela

 

Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom is really is. Margaret Mitchell

 

When small, you'll be ignored; When you grow, you'll be criticized; If you get big, you'll be resented. "Live for Him!" Rick Warren

 

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. James Crook

 

 

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