Sermon in a nutshell: “Happenings in the Mission Trip” (Acts 20:1-16)
In Paul’s mission trip, we can see three different groups: First group of people are opponents. They attacked Paul with many reasons. Some opposed him because of religious reasons and some with practical reasons. For example, Demetrius in the previous episode stirred up people because he lost his business. The Jewish leaders disagree with Paul because of their laws. They did not accept the risen Jesus and the new era that Jesus started already on the Cross. They could not accept the truth and would not change their life style when they heard the Good News of Jesus.
The second group of people is colleagues. They shared the same vision with Paul and worked for it. They envisioned the new family in God that overcame racial and cultural division. The new family of God moved beyond the Jewish people and embraced all the nations and peoples. God even moved beyond the laws in the Old Testament. For example, God allowed Peter to visit Cornelius. The Jerusalem council approved this new movement following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere Paul went, he found co-workers. Some of the names are written in this chapter also: “He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia.” They went ahead and were waiting for Paul in Troas. They prepared Paul’s mission and ministry work so that Paul could focus on the ministry of words.
The third group of people can be called “crowd.” They did not oppose Paul and his mission but they did not support him, either. They came to hear him because Paul was popular. Sometimes they wanted to see miracles but they would not want to be a part of God’s movement. In today’s Bible passage we have a young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window. Because there were so many people and they had heated debate all night, the room temperature went up. Eutychus wanted to have some cool breeze of the night. However, he did not have any interest in the debate and Paul’s lecture. He began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead.
Paul cannot let him die like that. Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” God gave his life back to support Paul’s mission! Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive. These people in the crowd can be also used by God to demonstrate God’s power and love.
When Jesus was on earth with us, there were also three groups of people: Disciples, Opponents, and Crowd. Disciples were those who followed Jesus and carried out his mission. Opponents were the ones who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the son of the living God. Crowd was those people who followed Jesus out of curiosity but do not have genuine heart for the Kingdom of God. They were fed and cured by Jesus. However, they would not sacrifice their time, talent, and money for God.
In our times, there are also three groups. In modern churches we can find “crowd.” Many times, they doze off during the sermon (Remember Euthycus?). They skip Sunday worship whenever there are more interesting things going on in their lives. They do not give offering even when they have money to do something else. They come to church for fellowship and fun but whenever God asks sacrifice they stop following Jesus.
In our times, there are also disciples. They sacrifice their time, talent, and money to do mission and ministry. They pay attention to the sermon and see if God speaks to them directly through the sermon. They usually do not skip Sunday worship unless absolutely necessary. They give tithe and give more for diverse mission and ministry. They come to church even when they cannot have fun. When God asks sacrifice they willingly follow Jesus to the Cross.
In our times, there are also opponents. They do not want to change their attitude or life style when God starts a new thing. They cling to the laws and do not open their mind and heart to the Holy Spirit. They insist that things should be same always. Many times, they say, “We have never done that before” and that is the end of the discussion.
Now here is the question:
- Who are you among those three groups?
- What do you want to change to be a disciple of Jesus?