I’ve been thinking about Acts 14. Paul and Barnabas are in the city of Lystra ministering when folks from a neighboring town show up and begin spreading ill-will regarding the two disciples whom the locals believe are incarnate Greek gods. But in verse 19 the scene changes dramatically when the people become convinced by the visiting rumormongers that the disciples are troublemakers.
Whether a trial ensued or a mob action decided Paul’s fate, we don’t know, but the text says, “They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.”
Think about the drama. The Bible is telling us that the crowd picked up rocks and threw them at Paul until they believed they had killed him.
During the LA riots, do you remember seeing the truck driver repeatedly hit in the head with a rock and left lying in the street? Can you imagine participating in such a thing?
Think about Paul watching the incoming rocks. Imagine what his fingers and hands looked like from trying to cover himself. Imagine what shape his body was in when the crowd got finished.
This was gruesome. Such was capital punishment in those days. Standard procedure was to drag the bludgeoned victim out of the city and let the dogs clean up the mess.
The Bible goes on to say that while Paul’s friends stood around his beaten, dead form, he got up and walked back into the city.
Take this story off the printed page and remember: This is a real man with bones and skin and emotions that we are reading about. Here is a bloody, beaten, swollen, pulp of a man, presumed dead, who picks himself up out of the rocks, dirt, sweat, and blood and walks back into town. Furthermore, he and Barnabas walk about 60 miles to Derbe the next day.
I’ve heard of working the soreness out, but this is amazing.
Next blog: What Paul Knew