“Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us. As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.”
Acts of the Apostles 28:1-6 NLT
Relieved to reach the shore safe and sound, the whole group was greeted, and treated, with acceptance and kindness by the natives. They made a fire to warm them since they had endured weeks of unrelenting, stormy, wet conditions. As Paul retrieved sticks for the fire, and placed them on the fire, a venomous snake came out of the fire and latched itself on him. Expecting Paul to drop dead in minutes, the people murmured that although the sea had not claimed Paul's life, justice was now served to this man through means of the snake. Since he was a prisoner, and since the natives didn't know Paul, they assumed that he was a common criminal.
However, when he didn't even get sick, they proclaimed that he must be a god. Pagan cultures worship many gods. It isn't surprising that they would call him a deity. Paul knew better.
Interesting, it is, that in spite of the toil and anguish of enduring the two week storm and the shipwreck, Paul serves his fellow men. Regardless of their being, largely, pagans, he humbly loved and served them. Where were all of the others when it came time to gather wood?
How about you? Are you nursing your wounds or are you thinking of others? Let's be servants of Jesus in all of life's circumstances. God can, and will, use that kind of heart to reach the world!
Rev. Curtis Norris