“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” (Acts 13:42–44, AV)
As a preacher, my heart’s desire was always to see some great movement of God’s Spirit in the lives of people that would result in a change in their hearts. It was to see a transformation in people that would give them a tremendous hunger and thirst for the word of God and to share their blessing with others. Occasionally, I would see some people who wanted more of God and His word and to invite others to the feast as well. I loved nothing more than to be able to sit down with such people and discuss God’s word at a deeper level. This is the blessing that Paul experienced in this passage.
After Paul preached the gospel in the synagogue, he experienced the things about which all preachers dream. First, those in the synagogue beg to hear more. They had a deep hunger for the Word of God. This hunger should characterize every God-fearing person. This hunger will drive people to make the study of God’s Word, participation in Bible studies, and participation in corporate worship a priority of life rather than a sideline.
Second, some follow Paul and Barnabas seeking more depth. It seems from the context, in that Paul and Barnabas urged them to “continue in the grace of God,” that they had received God’s grace. Every preacher wants to know that his preaching is effective. This means more that getting a nice compliment after a sermon or Bible lesson. It means that the presentation of the word of God is transforming the lives of people.
Last, a week later, we see that “almost the whole city” came “to hear the word of the Lord.” What a blessing it would be to see such a movement of God in our city that nearly everyone gathered to hear the message of salvation in Christ. This means that somehow the word got out to others in the city that they could hear a message that would give them hope. How did the word get out? I believe it was through word-of-mouth. Those in the synagogue, both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles talked with their friends, neighbors and acquaintances about what they had heard the previous week.
Of course, we realize that the wiles of man’s ingenuity did not prompt these three types of responses. Throughout the book of Acts, we see how the Spirit of God moved to accomplish the purposes of God. However, in the great program of God, He uses people empowered and guided by the Spirit to do this.
What is our response? Since the work is divine, we must pray. We must pray that God would put this type of hunger in the heart of every person for His Word. We must pray that the preaching and teaching of the Word transforms lives. We must pray that those who have such a hunger and thirst for God would invite their friends, neighbors and acquaintances to know Jesus and study God’s word.