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Shock and Faith: Saul and Ananias

Saul and Ananais

By Pietro De Cortana (Wikipedia)

Who was more shocked, Saul or Ananias after that fateful trip to Damascus?

Both of them displayed shock, faith and courage in following what God had just dumped into their lives.

For his part, Saul/Paul of Tarsus was on a zealous mission to defend the God whom he believed members of The Way–Christians–were blaspheming.

He had received warrants to arrest those infidels, handcuff them into chains and drag them back 135 miles to religious authorities in Jerusalem.

A noted Jewish scholar, well trained in the school of Hillel, Saul saw the trip as his duty. He needed to protect innocent Jews from the Jesus Way.

God, who loved Saul, saw the situation differently.

Saul on the road to Damascus

The story is well known. As Saul and his friends stalked up the road, God intervened:

Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

The light was bright enough, Saul fell to the ground. The friends recognized something significant had happened.

Saul called the voice “Lord,” not necessarily because he recognized God, but out of awe for whomever was speaking to him.

(Notice the voice did not say, “fear not,”so he knew the speaker was not an angel.)

It was Jesus.

Jesus, the man whose followers Saul was seeking to destroy.

Jesus, whom priests Saul knew in Jerusalem thought might be the Messiah, even though Saul refused to believe it himself.

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...

the Conversion of Saul by Michelangelo. (Wikipedia)

The men with him heard the rumble of a voice, but apparently not the exact words.

What was Saul to do?

Be thankful he hadn’t been struck down for blasphemy?

He obeyed.

But when he opened his eyes, Saul could not see.

His friends had to lead him into town. They lodged with a friend named Judas, who probably was expecting the men and their mission and therefore would not have been a Christian.

We don’t know how long it took Saul and his companions to reach Damascus.

Meanwhile in Damascus

Ananias, a “a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews,” albeit a Hellenized Jewish Christian, was worshipping Jesus one morning not long after.

God gave him a vision.

Ananias recognized God wanted him to find Straight Street, a major thoroughfare, and visit the home of Judas–who would not have been a friend of The Way.

Once there, Ananias was to lay hands on a man named Saul.

Fearful he had heard correctly, Ananias asked God for clarification:

“I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

God asked Ananias to find a man who had come from Jerusalem with the express purpose of arresting him, hauling him back to Jerusalem before the authorities and probably requiring his life.

Could God really be asking that of Ananias?

What would you do if God asked you?

Saul and Straight Street

Roman triumphal arch  on Street Called Straight, Damascus (Wikipedia)

Shocked, but a man of faith, Ananias found Judas’ house.

Sitting quietly, blind and with both shock and faith warring through his soul, Saul waited.

God had given him three days to contemplate how much he had misunderstood.

Ananias placed his hands on Saul’s head:

“Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.

He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. — Acts 9:13–19, NIV

Many people see this story of conversion as happening on the road to Damascus.In truth, it happened when Saul participated in the sacrament of prayer, obedience and baptism.

The Holy Spirit had convicted him over three days, but once the opportunity came to submit to baptism, the Holy Spirit entered Saul and his life changed.

Saul loved God, he met Jesus, the Holy Spirit entered his soul and nothing in history was ever the same again.

It took courage and faith to get over the shock of what God had done in Saul’s life on that road.

It took courage and faith to get over the shock of what God had called Ananias to do in prayer.

A willingness to obey God, even if it didn’t make any logical sense changed history.

May God grant us all the faith to overcome shock to obey God and rejoice over how He works in spite of us.

Thanks be to God.

Tweetables

Shock, awe and faith on the road to and in Damascus Click to Tweet

2 men of courage and faith: Saul of Tarsus and Ananias. Click to Tweet

Overcoming shock with faith to change history. Click to Tweet

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