“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.”
The “Jews... from Antioch and Iconium” stoned Paul and left him for (what they thought was) dead. His executioners dragged Paul out of Lystra (in modern day southwestern Turkey) and quickly departed. The disciples appeared and surrounded the apostle’s lifeless body, quietly planning his burial and mostly wondering what to do next.
In the midst of the tragic scene, Paul did what all great leaders do… “he got up and went back” to the place of defeat. At the very site of his attempted murder, Paul showed his bloodied, nearly unrecognizable face again. Imagine the disciple’s surprise, mourning the loss of a great man of God whose body lay mangled near a path leading to the city whose citizens violently rejected his message. In the midst of their grief, the semi-conscious apostle ignited his remaining spark of life and struggled to his feet. He was an apparition of a man, unstable, wobbly, and waving like a willowy branch in the wind. Paul now barely stood before his followers. Their eyes locked. The disciples, astonished and motionless, witnessed Paul’s utter determination to do the thing God told him to do until he really did die trying:
“...he got up and went back to the city”.
Slowly, with or without the disciples, in serious pain, against all logic, not waiting for the counsel of those whose primary interest was his welfare, but with only the interest of God at heart, he “got up and went back into the city”!
I used to have the audacity to pray “Lord, make me like Paul”. Today I would be satisfied if He gave me the courage to follow a leader like Paul.
Photographer Mark (Sparks68) kindly gave me permission to use his picture of the mother goose and her chicks entitled "Follow the Leader". Check out his photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparks68/.