Paul and Barnabas found a place in Lystra and once they were there, they started preaching the gospel. We don’t know exactly how long they had been there, but they had started teaching and preaching. Things had not boiled over in that city like the others, but as Paul and Barnabas started to build a reputation for themselves, the leaders and people from the other cities they had been thrown out of showed up to continue persecuting them. Paul’s work had just started in the new place and already the past was coming back to hurt him. Crowds gathered against him and as he was teaching they drug him out of the city gates and stoned him.
There is poetic beauty here. Paul was in charge of the stoning of Stephen some time ago. A few chapters back we saw him leading the persecution and stoning of Christians. Now he was being stoned for the faith he allowed to change his life. Paul should have died here, but as they watch and thought he was dead they left him outside the city and went back in.
Time to move on right? Nope. Paul got back up, after having just been beaten with rocks, and went back into the city to preach. He trained leaders. He grew the church. He finished. He made sure the church was able to stand on its own. He went back into the community that just tried to kill him because he knew he had more to do. The mission was most important. People knowing and loving and following Jesus was most important.
May we have that kind of faith. May we love Jesus enough to be obedient, even in the roughest of circumstances.