Paul’s Conversion, and a Certain Disciple.
(To convert, is to change one thing, into another…
Conversion, here, means to spiritually change the direction of your life, by placing yourself on the foundation of Christ Jesus.)
To begin this, we must understand that Saul was a “up and coming” Pharisee.
He was going to be somebody in the Jewish Religion!
He was zealous concerning the Law; “a Hebrew of the Hebrews”. (Philippians 3:5)
But things began to “change”, when he heard, and saw a follower of Jesus Christ, die a martyr’s death.
For the man, Stephen, asked God to forgive them; and Saul knew that this is how a true follower of God would act. (Saul was there as a representative of the Council who judged Stephen. Acts 7:54-58)
But the “change”, then,….was not toward the Light he had seen,….but sent him fighting against it.
Vicious was his attack on all of “this Way”.
Acts 26:9-11 “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
And I punished them in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
And why was he “exceedingly mad against them”?
Because, as we shall see, God was pricking his heart; and telling him that “this Way” was the right way.
That Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God.
But he refused to listen, or to bow to God’s Way. Instead he would fight against it.
By destroying Christ’s followers; he would destroy this Way. (So he thought)
Acts 9:1-2 “And Saul yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest.
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whither they be men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”
So he is going to take his hatred of this Way to other cities; to Damascus. He gathers men to come as escorts for the prisoners he will bring back.
Everything is proceeding according to his plan.
But he has a surprise in store;…..for this is not according to God’s plan.
Acts 9:3 “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.”
Almost to his journeys end, close to Damascus; God shines a light down upon him that he can not ignore!
Acts 9:4-6 “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou Me?
And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Here, Saul falls to the ground. The Light is blinding, and he can not stand against it.
He falls (finally in the right position before Jesus Christ), and then he is spoken to: Why are you persecuting Me, Saul?
(Notice that Jesus always identifies Himself with His people: Their persecution is His, as well.)
Saul is quite shocked! He thought he was just fighting against people; Who was he fighting against?
The Lord Jesus Christ then tells him, “It is I, you are trying to destroy. And I am here to tell you, you can not.
I have been pricking your heart with the truth of Who I am for some time.
You just keep kicking against it.
Stop fighting My Way. Stop fighting the Light I have given you.”
Saul, having heard Christ Jesus for himself, gives himself over to Him: “Lord……What would You have me to do?”
Yielding simple allegiance, and seeking to obey; Saul gives up his life into the hands of Jesus Christ.
“I am Yours, what do you want me to do? Go on, or go back, or what?”
The Lord then calls him on to Damascus, not as persecutor of His people, but as brother to those of this Way.
The rest would be “told” him, when he got there.
Acts 9:8 “And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they lead him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.”
Refusing to see the Light God first gave him, Saul is now blinded for a time. They lead him to Damascus.
Saul is now fasting, waiting to hear from the Lord the instruction he was promised.
And now to the “certain disciple”:
Acts 9:10-12 “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision; Ananias, and he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”
Ananias spoke up;….he did not say he would not go, for he had called Jesus, Lord. (He is not Lord to you, if you will not do what He says.)
But he prays a prayer that we all would be well to imitate, when we are afraid about doing God’s Will:
Ananias told God what he had heard about Saul, the evil he had done in Jerusalem, and that he had come to do the same here in Damascus.
In other words, Ananias told God his fear, and ask what to do about it.
Now God knew this, but as Ananias prayed this information to the Lord, peace came upon his heart. A peace that passeth understanding.
Ananias was then ready to hear what Jesus said to him: “Go”
Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
And so Ananias, went; doing exactly what Jesus had commanded him to do for Saul.
Praying for him to receive his sight, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
(And because he went and prayed for Saul; every reward Saul [His name was later changed to Paul] will receive from the Lord,…..Ananias will receive a part, too.)
And what did Saul do?
Acts 9:19-20,22 “…Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
And straightway preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
And Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which were at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
Acts 26:19-20 “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision:
But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coast of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”
Saul continued on, doing the Will of Christ Jesus, his Lord, through many afflictions, and persecutions of his own;…..till, at the last he could say:
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”
Conversion meant for Saul that he spiritually changed the direction of his life by placing himself on the foundation of Jesus Christ, his Lord.
Have you been converted to Christ?