Today’s Bible reading
Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.[a] So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Now there was a believer[b] in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him, so he can see again.”
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
Saul stayed with the believers[d] in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”–Acts 9
More thoughts for meditation
Saul was a Jewish leader, a righteous man of piety. You might know him as Paul – writer of large chunks of the New Testament, and some of the most memorized verses! (Romans 8:28, etc)
God took a man who was renowned for imprisoning and murdering followers of Jesus, and turned him into an effective and well known preacher of the Gospel. Amazing!
Later on in his life, Paul described his persecution of the church as being zealous for the traditions of his Fathers (Galatians 1:11-17) When persecuting the Jewish Christians, one could assume that he thought he was doing the right thing, the godly thing at the time.
Through an experience with God, Saul’s path was set straight. It even resulted in a new identity!
Suggestions for action
Jesus has established a new way of doing things – socially, politically, religiously – his way does not conform to the right, left, tradition, or neo. In order to stay attuned to his path, I believe we are required to come before God, hands open, ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to go with the flow of God’s will.
It’s a tough question to consider, but let’s pause and reflect: are there any areas in your life where you think you are doing the right thing, but if you stopped to listen to God, they might call you in a different direction? Any traditions you hold tightly too? New ideas that make you clench your fists? Try coming before God with open hands and an open heart.