13Paul and the others left Paphos and sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. But John left them and went back to Jerusalem.14The rest of them went on from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia. Then on the Sabbath they went to the Jewish meeting place and sat down.
15After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders sent someone over to tell Paul and Barnabas, “Friends, if you have anything to say that will help the people, please say it.”
16Paul got up. He motioned with his hand and said:
People of Israel, and everyone else who worships God, listen!17The God of Israel chose our ancestors, and he let our people prosper while they were living in Egypt. Then with his mighty power he led them out,18and for about forty years he took care of them in the desert.19He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and gave their land to our people.20All this happened in about 450 years.
Then God gave our people judges until the time of the prophet Samuel,21but the people demanded a king. So for forty years God gave them King Saul, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.22Later, God removed Saul and let David rule in his place. God said about him, “David the son of Jesse is the kind of person who pleases me most! He does everything I want him to do.”
23God promised that someone from David’s family would come to save the people of Israel, and that one is Jesus.24But before Jesus came, John was telling everyone in Israel to turn back to God and be baptized.25Then, when John’s work was almost done, he said, “Who do you people think I am? Do you think I am the Promised One? He will come later, and I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
At Perga their travel companion and helper, John Mark, left them for reasons unexplained. We know that Paul was hurt by his desertion, because later on he and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement about taking John Mark with them on their second missionary journey (Acts 15:37-39). Nevertheless, they continued to press on to Pisidian Antioch, where they once again shared “a message of encouragement for the people” (v 15 NIV). With the departure of John Mark, Paul had been caused to experience personally and afresh the suffering and the sufficiency of Christ. Sometimes our most effective ministry takes place during seasons of brokenness and vulnerability. God uses the tenderness of those moments to breathe authenticity and urgency into our spiritual journey with him and to validate, with enriched texture, our hope in him.
Paul was ready to preach out of his vulnerability, not in spite of it. The citizens of Antioch gladly heard what he had to say. This is the first full sermon from Paul that we have recorded, and in it are themes that remain important to him the rest of his life. He assures his hearers that anything that has been done by God to make us right with him is all by grace. He assures them too that God has worked throughout the history of Israel to bring salvation to the world, culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ.
God will use our brokenness to bless others if we will let him. We all need the example of people who are willing to share the message of Christ’s hope in seasons of noticeable personal vulnerability. Let God bring blessing from your brokenness.
God, who sees us and cares, You transform weakness to power, disappointment to hope, vulnerability to strength, and hurt to healing. Breathe authenticity and urgency into our spiritual journey in the midst of our most difficult life circumstances. We need you to bring blessing out of our brokenness. Through Jesus who is our glory and the reason for our message, Amen.