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Sixth Sunday Of Easter
Series C

Option #1: "God's Testimony"
Acts 14:8-18
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div
.

I. Pagan religion is worthless--vv13-15; 2 Kings 17:15; 1 Kings 16:13, 26; Jeremiah 8:19, 10:7-8; Jonah 2:8-9

Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 14:13: oxen and garlands (taurous kai stemmata). Probably garlands to put on the oxen before they were slain. It was common to sacrifice bullocks to Jupiter and Mercury.

Would have done sacrifice (e˘thelen thuein). Imperfect indicative, wanted to offer sacrifice. He was planning to do it, and his purpose now became plain to Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 14:15:  That ye should turn from these vain things (apo touto˘n to˘n mataio˘n epistrephein). He boldly calls the worship of Jupiter and Mercury and all idols "vain" or empty things, pointing to the statues and the temple.

Unto the living God (epi theon zo˘nta). They must go the whole way. Our God is a live God, not a dead statue. Paul is fond of this phrase (2 Corinthians 6:16; Romans 9:26).

II. God's testimony consists of many great and ongoing gifts to mankind--v17; Lev 26:3-5; Deut 11:13-17; Job 38:26-28; Psalm 19, 65:9-13, 147:7-9; Jer14:22; Rom 1:19-20

Acts 14:17: He did good (agathourgo˘n). Present active causal participle of agathourgeo˘, late and rare verb (also agathoergeo˘ 1 Timothy 6:18). This witness to God (his doing good, giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness) they could receive without the help of the Old Testament revelation (Romans 1:20). Zeus was regarded as the god of rain and Paul claims the rain and the fruitful (karpophorous, karpos, and phero˘, fruit bearing, old word, here alone in NT) seasons as coming from God. Lycaonia was often dry and it would be an appropriate item. "Mercury, as the God of merchandise, was also the dispenser of food" (Vincent). Paul does not talk about laws of nature as if they governed themselves, but he sees the living God "behind the drama of the physical world" (Furneaux). These simple country people could grasp his ideas as he claims everything for the one true God.

III. The one true Sacrifice--vv11&18; Rom 3:25-28; Eph 5:1-2; Heb 9:24-26, 10:5-14; 1 John 2:1-2, 4:10

Albert Barnes writes regarding Christ’s Sacrifice for sin on Eph 5:2: and a sacrifice--Ŕ§ˇ▀ßÝ thusian. Christ is here expressly called a "Sacrifice"--the usual word in the Scriptures to denote a proper sacrifice. A sacrifice was an offering made to God by killing an animal and burning it on an altar, designed to make atonement for sin. It always implied the "killing" of the animal as an acknowledgment of the sinner that he deserved to die. It was the giving up of "life," which was supposed to reside in the "blood" (see the notes on Rom 3:25), and hence it was necessary that "blood" should be shed. Christ was such a sacrifice; and his love was shown in his being willing that his blood should be shed to save people.

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Children's Message

Acts 14: 15: "They tore their clothes."

Try to imagine this happening to you. You’re out playing with your friends. You’re running in an area where there are trees. Part of your shirt/blouse gets caught on a tree branch and it tears. Or maybe you and your friend were wrestling. You almost got away, but he grabbed you by the sleeve and it tore. Now what would your Mother say about that? I think you know because it probably has happened to you. You told her: "It was an accident; we didn’t mean to do it."

What would you think of someone tearing their clothes on purpose? It happened often in Bible times. It was a custom among Hebrew people to tear their clothes when they were very upset about something. It happened in today’s first reading. When Paul and Barnabas finally figured out what was happening, the Bible says "they tore their clothes." Clothes weren’t cheap in those days. So why did they do this? They did it because some people thought that they were gods and were about to make sacrifices to them.

The world that you’re growing up in would never find most people reacting that way when someone was worshiping other gods. Many just say, "Oh well; if that’s what they want to do, it’s okay with me." If Paul had felt that way, his clothes would have lasted longer than they did. Instead, here is what he told them: (Acts 14:15) "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

If someone is worshiping the wrong god, it is worthless for him. It doesn’t help him. There is only one God and He sent His Son to be our Savior from sin. God told us: "You shall not worship any other gods." We know who the right God is. He was right here with us, walking and talking with us. He gives us rain and food and keeps us alive and well. So we worship the true God who gave us life and gives us more things than we can count.

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Option #2: "A God Who Bleeds"
Acts 14:8-18
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The following outline is based on and inspired by one 
created by Glen Thomas in Concordia Journal

The Point: God has always been here to help His people--and always will be

The Problem: we repeatedly react with misguided worship--self-worship in the garden (Adam & Eve); manufactured worship at Mt. Sinai (golden calf); diverted worship in the Promised Land (Baal and related gods)

The Promise: God's help "in human form" (1:14), the "Spirit of truth" (John 14:23-29), and Word & Sacrament

Notes:

1. The healing of the man who was lame from birth produces a rather shocking reaction by the people of Lystra, a Roman colony and the home town of Timothy--see Acts 16:1. Yet when one is aware of the area's history, the reaction is understandable. The area apparently contained many who worshiped Zeus and Hermes, and Luke informs the reader that a temple dedicated to Zeus existed in Lystra. Legend had it that an elderly couple in the area was once visited by Jupiter and Mercury, the Roman equivalents of Zeus and Hermes. According to the legend, the couple was unaware that they were entertaiing deity and were rewarded for their hospitality. In the 1920s, a stone altar was discovered there which was dedicated to the "hearer of prayer, presumably Zeus, and Hermes" (F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts). Some have speculated that Barnabas may have been identified as Zeus, the chief god in the Greek pantheon, because he was more physically imposing than Paul, and that Paul was identified as Hermes, son of Zeus by Maia and the herald for the gods, because Paul was doing the speaking. (Glen Thomas)

2. Zeus {dzyooce}, v12: Jupiter or Zeus = "a father of helps"; the national god of the Greeks and corresponds to the Roman Jupiter. (Blue Letter Bible)

3. Hermes {her-mace'}, v12: Mercurius or Hermes = "herald of the gods"; a Greek deity called by the Romans Mercurius (Mercury). (BLB)

4. When Captain James Cook, discoverer of the Hawaiian Islands, first dropped anchor in Hanauma Bay, he was greeted with great ceremony. Realizing the islanders thought he was their god Lono, Cook thought, "Oh, well. Why not?" Consequently, he and his men were treated to everything the island had to offer--until one evening when Cook, about to take advantage of yet another woman, was clubbed in the back of the head by her husband, who, in his anger, forgot that Captain Cook was Lono. Bleeding and groaning, the Captain went down. By the time he came to, he found himself looking into the eyes of his aggressor, who said, "Gods don't bleed. Nor do they groan." And Cook was killed on the spot. (Jon Courson)

5. We must not be too quick to judge any other country for their idols when, in our own culture, we idolize men who can hit a leather ball with a wooden bat. (Courson)

6. If the distance between here and the sun (93 million miles) was represented by the thickness of a single sheet of notebook paper, it would take a stack of paper: 71 feet high to represent the distance between us and the nearest star; 31 miles high to represent the distance between us and the edge of the Milky Way; 310,000 miles high to represent the distance between us and the edge of the known universe. (Courson)

7. According to USA Today, scientists have recently discovered worms ten feet long living a mile below the surface of the earth. The blue whale, a gigantic creature with a tongue equivalent to the weight of thirty-six full-grown men, survives on microscopic plankton.

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