Acts 13:4-12, So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? “Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
None of Paul’s missionary days were what one might call “boring.” Walking in the Spirit is often filled with opposition. Deciding to follow Jesus is a decision fraught with effort if not outright opposition. A real follower of Christ has to have courage as a foundational aspect of their Christian character. While God gives us great reason to be faithful, it is up to us to present that faith that will absolutely tested. The key to winning through adversity is knowing the Father.
Paul didn’t get very far in this journey until he met Bar-Jesus that is Elymas. He was the personal attendant to Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, or governor, of Cyprus. Elymas had committed a great offense against his supervisor and the kingdom of God. (Acts 13:7) He did all he could to prevent those who were hearing the Gospel from believing it. The Apostle rebuked the Magician, and struck blind the rebuked distraction of a very small man.
If the previous statement sounds harsh, remember Paul’s description was that Bar-Jesus was a son of the Devil. (Acts 13:10) That is an interesting designation for Elymas, since Bar-Jesus means son of Jesus. Paul was changing the designation of the name Elymas was using to announce Bar-Jesus’ true place in life. There were some key evidences of that Elymas really was in allegiance with Satan.
“Full of Deceit” was one phrase he used. He was a “Magus” and presumed to be a wise man. The immediate community saw him as powerful in his wisdom and skills. The truth is that he was a “fraud and a liar.” He used “deception and trickery” to con people into giving him trust and remuneration for his false promises. He “distorted the right ways of God,” so that he could maintain power in their lives.
Paul’s accusation was precisely accurate. Paul was an old soldier and well aware of the enemy’s many maneuvers. God’s first miracle performed through Paul was to strike Bar-Jesus blind. Blindness was a physical representation of Elymas’ spiritual condition. Satan will never be a match for God. This event was so profound to the observers that the pro-consul believed the truth of Paul. The Greek word used means that Sergius Paulus was “knocked out of his senses.” What he experienced was beyond what his senses could handle. Maybe we all need to be knocked out of our senses at times.
God wants us to all to experience to overwhelming power of His wisdom in this world. He wants to blow our minds and open our blind eyes. God is loving, wise, relevant, and sometimes righteously wrathful. Because Sergius sought God, he found Him. Because he wanted to hear about God, he was witness to the awesome power of God’s own Word. He was ready to receive and God granted the blessing of his lifetime. We need to pray and seek like the psalmist in Psalms 119:18 – “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” We might find our senses rocked!
When you pick up your Bible, listen to God with your heart wide open. Put down your pride and rationalization and seek God with all that you have. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Do you pray like God is the restored connection to a long lost relative? Do you seek God and His wisdom? Are you studying His word with an energy worthy of this effort? Do you spend time with His people, or do you spend time making excuses about why you don’t need to be with them? Bar-Jesus wanted to use his life’s capitol to lead people astray. Instead, he could have opted to be like those who became faithful. What will your choice be? Do you seek the truth which brings us to our knees, or do you seek to excuse a life of indifference and unfaithfulness? Godspeed on your journey.