They [Paul and Barnabas] warned them [the disciples in Galatia] that getting into God’s kingdom would mean going through considerable suffering. (14:22)
It sure will. It seems everywhere Paul went on this trip he was either chased out of town or beaten half to death. In no time at all the crowd in Lystra goes from wanting to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas to wanting to kill them. They went from being the object of sacrifice to the sacrifices themselves. God’s mission necessitates sacrifice.
I am struck, though, how Paul and Barnabas go back through the cities where they are persons non gratis to reinforce the core message of the Kingdom to the new converts (14:21-23), and part of that core message is that disciples have to be ready to sacrifice. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this the “cost of discipleship,” not always something we hear a lot about in some Christian circles these days. But how can we share with any credibility the story of a suffering Savior if we are not willing to suffer ourselves?