There are some sermons you preach that you wish you could’ve stretched into many, many more sermons. This past Sunday was one of those. Acts 18:24-19:20 (a chunk of Paul’s third missionary journey) has so many stories that I could’ve preached it over the course of four or five or six weeks. But more on that in a second. . .
We were out of town at Family Camp this past week. I’m not much on jumping up and down, loud cheers, and other high-energy things, but I love going there. This was our second year and we plan, Lord willing, to get there next year. Getting back into the pulpit after nine(ish) days of vacation with the family is good and bad. Good because I missed The Oaks (though The Oaks is always in great hands when I’m gone—better than my own). Bad because I was gone for nine days and didn’t think much about preaching (replace “much” with “at all”).
We work on sermons about 17 days out in these parts so it wasn’t the preparation that really bothered me, as a lot of that was done a few weeks ago; but it was simply getting back in the groove and into this super-long passage. . .
We landed on talking about specific spheres of correction that Jesus gives us.
- Apollos receives a slight correction in his understanding of Jesus.
- The Disciples in Ephesus have a significant correction in their understanding of the Holy Spirit.
- The Seven Sons of Sceva are beaten and bloodied because they tried to take advantage of the name of Jesus.
The point: Let Jesus correct you in the small things so that you don’t get a beating. (Those aren’t the exact words, but you get the idea.)
But here’s the thing: I would’ve loved to preach a lot of other sermons and points this past Sunday from any part of this passage. A few of them are:
- Confronting Less-than-Accurate Teaching–Priscilla and Aquila do this with Apollos in Ephesus.
- The Baptism of John?–We could’ve spent the whole Sunday looking at the beginning of 19 and how Paul corrected the disciples in Ephesus who seemed to have no understanding of the Holy Spirit.
- The Faithfulness of God’s Timing–In Acts 16, Paul is forbidden from preaching in new parts of Asia (modern-day Turkey), but in Acts 19 we read that all of Asia heard of Jesus. I would’ve loved to take these stories and show that God is working on a much grander story than we realize.
- Clash of Power–The end of today’s passage dealt with all kinds of things: prayer cloths and aprons, speaking evil spirits, naked exorcists, and book burning. This was such an amazing story. Would’ve loved to spend more time there.
Since Luke is a storyteller, a lot of stories get woven together over the course of these journeys. In God’s grace, we will get more opportunities to tell these stories in different ways. . .