We meet Saul again in our story today. No longer is he the young disciple bystander. Today he is a vicious threat to the new believers. He has murder in his heart towards any who call on Jesus’ name.
Saul fully believed in what he was doing. He thought the best way to honor God was to remove anyone who professed faith in Jesus from the planet. He didn’t simply want them in jail, but dead. He had been fully indoctrinated by the religious leaders and bought into their beliefs wholeheartedly.
I’m pretty sure Saul was a favorite of the high priest too. A man on fire to do his will in ridding the world of those professing faith in Jesus. He was MORE than happy to give Saul the authority to strike against those of “the Way.”
Saul was honestly blind before he started his journey. He was blind to the truth. He had purposefully put on the blinders of the Pharisee sect. He refused to accept anything outside of their doctrine. He even refused to question what he was being taught. How could so many years of tradition be wrong?
On the road to Damascus Saul “saw the light”, literally and figuratively. He saw a blinding light from Heaven which resulted in physical blindness but was also the beginning of his spiritual healing from blindness.
When the bright light appeared and a voice spoke from Heaven Saul’s first response was perfect! “Who are You, Lord?” (verse 5). Saul recognized that this could only be an act of God. But he needed clarification on that.
Saul knew what his mission was regarding those of the Way but he didn’t think he was persecuting God. He believed he was acting FOR God, not against. But that is exactly what the voice accused him of. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (verse 4). He had NO defense once he learned the identity of the One questioning him. Everything Saul believed in shifted that day.
I’m wondering what it was about Saul that had Jesus single him out. There were certainly others going after the new church. There were probably others who had more knowledge and training than Saul too. But Jesus chose him specifically. Was Saul’s zealousness because his heart was actually searching even if his mind was made up? Was there a seed planted that took root without his notice? What was it that Jesus saw in him?
After Saul was brought by his companions into the city he did something remarkable. He prayed for three days. He was accustomed to praying as part of the daily rituals of the Pharisees but this prayer was different. This one wasn’t done to appear righteous. It wasn’t to garner praise from those looking on. It was him pleading with Jesus.
I believe Saul’s prayer focused on four areas. The first was forgiveness. He saw now that Jesus was everything He claimed to be. How could He have spoken from Heaven if He wasn’t also with God? The second focus of Saul’s prayer likely focused on his healing. Saul’s life was over as he knew it. As a blind man he would have been reduced to begging in the streets. He NEEDED healing. The third aspect of Saul’s prayer was probably “Now what Lord?” There had to be a reason for Jesus to appear to him and speak so clearly to him. What did God and Jesus want of him? What were their plans for his future? The final aspect of Saul’s prayer was the part that moved him even further into spiritual sight. He prayed for understanding. He needed to know the truth. I believe this is the aspect that kept him on his knees those three days. His heart LONGED to understand. How had he missed this? How had he been so blind? Saul knew the scriptures frontwards and backwards. I believe God opened them to him in his mind clearer during those three days of prayer than in ALL his years of study.
Jesus was not deaf to Saul’s prayers. He answered them on two fronts. He gave Saul a vision of the man, Ananias, who would help him and He spoke directly to that man on Saul’s behalf. God could have healed Saul without Ananias’ assistance but Saul needed more than just healing. He needed someone to testify to his change in character as well as someone who could be his mentor.
Jesus needed a special person to step into that role for Saul. It had to be someone who was well known by the new church and was above reproach. Ananias would have to vouch for Saul to the rest of the brotherhood before any would trust him. He would also have to be willing to study with him and share openly the truth he had found in Jesus.
Ananias deepened his trust in Jesus too. He had heard of Saul and all that he was doing to the believers. He could have refused to do as Jesus told him but instead he put his life in His hands. He knew who he was going to minister to and what that man had the power to do. If this was a trick he could be in prison in a matter of hours, if not worse. But Ananias chose to believe Jesus for his safety. He went “into the lion’s den” and met directly with Saul.
Ananias’ greeting spoke volumes! “Brother Saul” (verse 17a). He was no longer the enemy but a brother in Christ. Ananias’ prayer was sincere and filled with the power of the Spirit. Saul received his physical sight as well as even deeper Spiritual sight, through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Immediately after his healing and infilling Saul took the next step in joining fully with the new believers. He was baptized. THEN he tended to the needs of his body.
Lord Jesus, it amazes me how You choose some of the most unlikely people to become mighty in Your Kingdom. David, the shepherd boy in the field. Abraham, the man who lied about his wife being his sister. Moses, a man who murdered another. Peter, a man who denied You vehemently. And Saul, a man intent on wiping all traces of Your name from the face of the earth. Each one used in an amazing way! You saw past the present and looked at their future. A future that You molded in them and trained them for. On many occasions Saul says he felt unworthy of the confidence You placed in him. He probably didn’t understand why You singled him out either.
I have the same question in my life. I know You love me and have something special planned for my life but, why? I don’t deserve it but I’m grateful for it. Thank You for inviting me to be part of Your family. It doesn’t matter how small or big a part I play in Your family, so long as I belong; that’