Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of Saul, an authorized mercenary tracking down Christians, and how he became a follower of Jesus himself, blinded and thrown off his horse on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him.
He’s been rendered helpless and scared by the very Jesus he intended to suppress. Here’s what happened next:
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, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 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. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:11-20 ESV)
Follow-up to the Bible miniseries was one on the Book of Acts called “A.D. the Bible Continues”. I thought they portrayed Saul, later renamed Paul, really well.
There were several scenes where he was genuinely hard to like. He was overconfident, brash and his transformation seemed too quick, and too complete to be believed. The other disciples, who’d lived in fear of this man, were naturally skeptical of his transformation.
This happens all the time, even today. When people change, or claim to change, others are skeptical. Just last week, we were reminded of this as many watched Rob Ford’s funeral. Here was a man whose failings and addictions were well known, and whenever he claimed to be changing, few believed him. Whether it was a public announcement of his weight loss plans, going to rehab, or claiming not to have done drugs or alcohol in a certain timeframe, I think the public at large was conditioned to believe it was impossible – Rob Ford would never change.
Think – what would it have taken for you to believe Rob Ford had changed?
Of course the story came to a tragic end, with his death from cancer at just 46. The funeral was a reminder, I think, of his humanity. Here was a man being buried, a human being with young children, a family who loved him, and people whom he’d helped wanting to tell their stories. Seeing that play out on television helped, I think, show people that regardless of the caricature they’d drawn in their minds of a certain kind of many with a certain kind of problems who’d never change, he was actually al human being like them, and we always deserve a second chance.
I’m sure it was hard for the disciples to give Saul a second chance, too! Here he is asking Peter for forgiveness in that television series.
Question: How do you think Ananias and the other disciples like Peter felt about helping Saul? How would you feel?