Year 2 Day 17
Read - Acts 13v4-12
Message - Scott Woodburn
In this country we love Biblical names for our children but draw the line at naming our sons Jesus. Yet if you have a son called Joshua then you have actually given him the name of the Lord. Over the years our western tongues have taken Christ's name and pronounced it as Jesus. However on the streets of Jerusalem Christ's name would have been pronounced "Yeshua" the equivalent of Joshua.
As Barnabas and Saul make their way to the island of Cyprus they are not there for a holiday. They preached the Gospel in the synagogues of the Jews with John's help (v5). This isn't the Apostle John but rather John Mark who assists Saul on his travels. As they reach Paphos they face opposition from a Jewish false prophet with the extraordinary name of Bar-Jesus (v6). Luke isn't telling us here that this man was related to Christ, instead when we come across "bar" in the Bible it means "son of". So the father of this false prophet was called Joshua or Yeshua or as we pronounce it - Jesus.
His other name was Elymas (v8) which means "wise" but he was in reality a dangerous fool. Elymas Bar-Jesus was seeking to stop the preaching of the Gospel. A Roman government official by the name of Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man and he wanted to hear the word of God preached (v7) but Elymas did his best to keep him away from the faith (v8b).
We've heard a lot of names in this devotion and for the first time we hear that Saul is also called Paul. Saul was a Hebrew name and Paul was its Roman equivalent. So as the Hebrew convert called Saul preaches to the Gentiles, he uses his Roman name Paul instead. Paul looks at Elymas and denounces him powerfully (v10). He calls him a son of the devil, an enemy of righteousness, a liar, a villan and someone who seeks to make crooked the straight paths of the Lord. Immediately Elymas is struck blind. The Lord closes the eyes of His opponents and opens the eyes of His people. Sergius Paulus is astonished at the teaching and is saved (v12).
As we reflect on Saul, Paul, Elymas, Sergius, John Mark and Barnabas we remember that there is a name greater than them all. Jesus is the name above all names and there is no other name by which we must be saved. Remarkably the one who receives Christ by faith is given the right to be called a child of God. Elymas may have carried the name of his father who had his name in common with the Lord, but Elymas was actually a child of the devil - spiritually blind and seeking to lead others astray.
May the Lord give us eyes to see the enemies of the Gospel and the courage to oppose them, may the Lord open the eyes of the spiritually blind in our churches and communities and may the Lord open our mouths so that we can declare the mighty name of Jesus!
Q31 What is effectual calling? Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.