This week we’re talking about how a prodigy can suddenly be transformed by God. This week we’ll study a story from Acts that shows God can work with even the most vicious young opponent of Christianity and transform them into his greatest promoter.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.
(Acts 9:1-11, 17-19 ESV)
Who wrote the most material in the NT? Many people would answer Jesus, but they’d be wrong. It’s Paul.
This man we’ve just read about, Saul, changed his name to Paul because of these events. He was so completely transformed, he needed a new name. We’ll call him Paul after this week, just to avoid confusion.
Despite his effectiveness as a vicious suppressor of the Christian movement, he becomes the most prolific author on the topic of Jesus.
- No one has really decided what to call the Christians yet. Known as people belonging to “the Way”.
- When Jesus stops him in his tracks, he asks “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” Note how Jesus identifies with his followers. Jesus is now sitting at God’s right hand, quite immune from one little human’s attempts to hurt him, and yet he says he hurts when his people hurt.
- Saul responds with “Lord”. Immediate recognition of Jesus’ power, even though he doesn’t know yet who it is. But this formerly powerful and violent man is suddenly blind, off his horse, and vulnerable, so he verbalizes it with that meek little question – “Who are you, Lord”?
I just read about a terrorist leader who lets no one get close to him, but a couple close associates. Those who need to speak to him go to a room with a bag over their heads, talk through the issues, and then are told that the leader was there, heard what they said, and would consider it.
What’s he trying to present? Assassination, yes, but mainly I imagine he knows if people realize he’s just a man, they won’t’ fear or respect him like they do when he’s mysterious and aloof.
Saul may well have been a man like that if his life had continued the way ti was headed. But in one moment, his image is destroyed with him lying on the ground in pain, blinded, whimpering to his greatest enemy and calling him Lord. Jesus interrupted this prodigy’s life of hatred and violence, and made it one of grace and love.
Question: When did you first realize a powerful person was simply human? Was it a good thing, or a bad thing?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]