In Lystra, Paul upon seeing the faith of a crippled man, tells him to stand up. The man is instantly healed. The surrounding crowd shouts, “The gods are come down to us in human form!” (Acts 14:11) Paul is called Hermes by them while Barnabas is Zeus — rather interesting name choices given that Hermes is the son of Zeus and a protector of travelers, thieves, and cowherds. Zeus, on the other hand, is the chieftain of the gods.
Turns out the priest from the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brings bulls and wreaths “to offer sacrifices” to Paul and Barnabas! Paul and Barnabas are mortified, tearing their clothes. They vehemently deny they are anything other than “men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15)
Hollywood stars and athletic heroes enjoy similar worship today. Unfortunately, some religious leaders do as well. Most of these individuals, I believe, would say the same as Paul and Barnabas. “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15) Hollywood stars and athletic heroes may not bring the good news; however, religious leaders ought to. They ought to tell us to “turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” (Acts 14:15)
Like Paul and Barnabas, sometimes it’s hard to “keep the crowd from sacrificing” to religious leaders, Hollywood stars, and athletic heroes. What an enormous waste, to sacrifice to men.