Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. Paul saw a man who was crippled from birth, the man had faith, and Paul healed him. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And they started worshipping Paul and Barnabas, even wanting to sacrifice oxen to them. But when Paul and Barnabas heard of it, they tore their clothes and cried out, “Why are you doing these things? We are also men like you; we are not gods to be worshipped.” Then they told the crowd that they should turn away from ‘vain worship’ and pointed out to them the goodness and generosity of the great Creator God.
So far so good. The people were excited over the tremendous act of healing of a man who had been lame from birth. Nothing like this had ever been seen. It was a wonderful miracle. And yet, when we read verse 19, we are shocked to find that these enthusiastic crowds who had lifted up Paul and Barnabas, even treating them like gods, were soon turned away, and their minds were ‘persuaded’ (evil influenced) by Jews who had come from Antioch and Iconium – and they were so filled with rage against Paul that they stoned him and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But the disciples gathered about him and he rose up and went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
Isn’t it shocking to see how the crowds behaved? They were excited about the miracle of healing and began to worship Paul and Barnabas, and when the Jews came and influenced their minds with false and evil accusations against Paul, the same crowds which had exalted the two servants of God now turned against them – and went to such an extent as to stone Paul!
The incidents at Lystra clearly show us that we can never ever trust man. Put not your trust in men, not even in princes – no, not even in your best friend, not even in your fellow-believer. Put your trust only in God. So says the Psalmist in Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7; Psalm 118:8-9; Psalm 146:3. It is a warning to us! We may be applauded by men, we may be elevated by the leaders of this world, but we should beware of the fickleness of man. It is not mere fickleness, but sheer depravity. It was a good work that was done at Lystra – a cripple had been healed – and yet the one who had done that good work was almost stoned to death.
We are told clearly in the Word of God not to trust in the world, not to trust in any man – but to trust in the Lord alone. He only is our Rock; He alone is faithful and true. Similarly when our Lord Jesus was in this world, the Jews wanted to stone Him to death. What did our Lord say? Read John 10.32. But at Lystra it seems that the Gentile world was even worse – here was no blasphemy against God, it was a good work, a marvellous work of healing, but the people of Lystra allowed their minds and hearts to be poisoned by the wicked Jews who had come from Antioch and Iconium. Is it so easy to change one’s mind? Are we so fickle? Or are we merely depraved?
Better to trust in God; never to trust in man, especially the Godless unbelievers of this world.