14:19 "Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe."
Try this for perspective: Paul and Barnabas came into Lystra and had such a positive impact on the city that even the priest of Zeus wanted to offer them sacrifices and hail them as gods. However when a delegation came from Antioch and Iconium spreading lies that same crowd tried to stone Paul to death. Was a switch flipped? Did Paul and Barnabas do something awful in Lystra to warrant the violent swing in public opinion?
Make no mistake. When a public figure goes from hero to zero so quickly it says little about the person and lots about the crowd. The same happened to Jesus in Jerusalem. One weekend they are trying to crown Him as their king and the next weekend they are screaming "Crucify Him!!!" How does that happen?
Easy. It's called high emotion devoid of objectivity or common sense. Look how quickly the world turned on a cop with no video evidence of the actual event or the moments leading up to it and only the testimony of the victim's wife to frame the context. Time may tell she was telling the truth and the cop might be as guilty as guilty can be. However at the time the evidence was lacking but emotion was not. Thankfully an independent prosecutor is coming in to try the case of Philando Castile and hopefully justice will prevail.
However what we learn from Lystra and the death of Castile is that we are quick to judge and slow to think. The Bible calls us to be slow to anger. The Bible also says that people without a firm foundation are easily swayed. We bounce around like a super ball. One piece of evidence sends us ranting in one direction and the next piece sends us off in the opposite direction. Notice in the case of Paul that the crowd was wrong in both instances. Paul was not as great as they first thought nor as bad as they thought after the liars showed up from Antioch and Iconium.
Think. Breath and count to ten. Ask questions. Assume nothing. Read between the lines. Never trust the media implicitly. Think. Reserve judgment until the story has a chance to unfold and be seen from all sides.
Mob mentality is real. The Bible calls humanity sheep and says "all we like sheep have gone astray". We like to think we think but history shows too many of us just follow the crowd. If we believed some media we would conclude that all Muslims are ISIS yet there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. If they were all like ISIS we'd all be dead by now.
Paul went from god status to being stoned in the blink of an eye. It's a serious reality to ponder. A friend of mine has a quote worth considering:
"When everyone is thinking the same it's likely no one is thinking at all."
Some attribute the quote to Walter Lippmann, George S. Patton, or John Wooden. Regardless of who said it the truth remains.