Ignited and Launched for the Glory of God: Acts 13:44-47
“44) The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45) But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. 46) Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47) For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ ”” Acts‬ ‭13‬:‭44‬-‭47‬
This text captures the tug of war between the flesh and the Spirit. When God is at work the enemy is quick to push back. “44) The next Sabbath, nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.”
Nothing this big had happened in Pisidian Antioch previously. God was at work. The whole city was buzzing with conversation about Paul’s message of Jesus Christ being the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
“45) But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.” It didn’t take long for the enemy to inflame the opposition with Jealousy. James 3:14- 16 warns; “14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15) This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
The earthly, natural and demonic showed up quickly to divide the crowd. I’ve seen it happen many times right in the middle of movements from God. Ministry is never easy. As long as there are carnal people, there will always be opposition in ministry. It’s one of the unwritten principles in the Ministry 101 Handbook.
But God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Without skipping a beat or getting side tracked, Paul pointed to Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6 and embraced his higher calling. He recognized that the door to the Jews was closing for him because God was opening a greater door to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Gods greater purpose was coming into focus.
When you look at this story through the lens of of faith, what looked like opposition became the launching pad for world missions. Peter and others still focused on work among the Jews, but Paul and Barnabas embraced their calling to boldly bring the gospel to the Gentiles. They continued to preach to Jewish people as they encountered them, but their frame of reverence exploded to encompass all people and all nations. This insignificant story of jealousy and opposition changed the course of human history.
Paul recognized that God was in control. Rather than getting discouraged, he aligned himself with the greater plan and purpose of God. This story exposed the root problem… their vision and focus was way to small! We can only expect great things from God when we attempt great things for God. Faith steps up in the face of what is seemingly impossible.
God did not call Noah to build a row boat to save his family… He called him to build an ark to preserve all animal life on planet earth. Those two missions were radically different. The first was man sized; the second was God sized.
Something similar happened in this story. God used the opposition in that synagogue to open the eyes of Paul and Barnabas see their greater calling. The Holy Spirit launched them! Their fuel tanks were filled in Acts 13:3-4. The fuel was ignited in Acts 13:46-47.
What is it going to take for God to ignite your fuel? When are you going to launch beyond mediocrity into the glory of God? When is the fight around you going to give you the courage to live by faith and answer the call into something truly “God Sized?”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global