Paul knocked off his horse

Darkness to Light: Saul to Paul

Darkness to Light

Saul stumbled in the darkness. Powerful persecutor, now suddenly powerless, he would need their hands to take a step. From darkness to light — that was God’s plan. But first, God would make everything just dark enough to get his attention.

This singular darkness was an act of God. Without his attendants, Saul would have been helpless; left vulnerable, blinded, on the side of the road. But God had a plan. It included

A voice from above

A question from heaven, and

A blind-siding light.

Astonished, Saul asks a clarifying question back to the Voice.

And the answer changes his life.

Here is the passage. Enjoy the read. It’s pretty amazing.

God Gets Saul’s Attention

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest
and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, 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.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “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.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “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.”

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”
Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 9:1-23

You can just see Saul racing toward the city, his entourage of accomplices barely keeping up. He is determined to drag these crazy heretics to prison. He’ll show them. (OK, we don’t for sure if Saul strode ahead…) But what passion!

Saul was a man zealous for God. I mean, even when he was “breathing threats” against the early followers of The Way, he was convinced that he was righteous: he was in the service of God.

His zeal is what drove his vehement opposition. He’d get these loonies. He would tolerate no falsehood, no crazy sect worshiping this troublesome, crucified, “Son of Man”.

Son of Man, indeed!

Paul, the Man of God

This passage in Acts shows Saul the Major-Threat/ Scary Capturer become Paul the Major-Defender/Baffling Preacher of the very Way he was determined to destroy. Talk about a major turn-around!

And God knew this all the time. No surprises, there. God watched the boy Saul grow into manhood in Tarsus, studying zealously under the wise Pharisee Gamaliel. God saw the firm, determined man studying the scriptures, careful, obeying the laws as best eh could. He saw a man sold out to Him.

Perfect.

God also saw to it that this Saul would be a Roman citizen. This was no small thing, and it, too would be used of God. for Paul would one day bring the Truth to Rome itself.

Paul would go on to became a mighty man for God, travelling more than anyone else that we know of, walking, riding, sailing, (and swimming, when ship-wrecked!) by some estimates as many as 10,000 miles to share the Good News with as many people that he possibly could.

Paul never seemed to rest. When not preaching and arguing the claims of Christ, he was weaving tents, to earn his keep. Often he was thrown into prison. At those times, he wrote letters to the churches, letters that exhorted, encouraged, and instructed those early churches in the Way of Christ.

His writings would become much of what we know today as the New Testament. What a man God chose: Paul the apostle, evangelist, tentmaker, preacher, writer, and exhorter — this honest, imperfect, willing man of God.

God’s Intervention: Just Right

Let’s take another look at the Saul’s conversion! Notice how God’s methods are unique to the individual. Note how God knew exactly what it would take for Paul to accept Christ’s claims.

Paul needed a blinding light, a voice from heaven, and scales heavy on his eyes. How about you? How did God get your attention?

Our God knows what it takes for each and every one of His own to come to Him, to experience Him, to know Him. Do you have a loved-one who has not yet come to faith? Keep praying. Keep interceding. Keep asking the Father to break through, with blindness, if necessary, to show Himself to that one in your life for whom you pray.

Pray that their hearts will be moved by the encounter with the Holy Lord Christ, that their minds will be opened. Their conversion may be nearer than you know.

Scary Guy

Saul was “breathing out murderous threats” against followers of Christ. He was fully in control. He was acting from His power. But that’s not all. This guy was prepared: he brought documents with him, outlining how his actions were sanctioned by the authority of the religious leaders in the Holy City itself, Jerusalem.

Once can just see him preparing…He’ll get those Christians!

  • Letters?
  • Check.
  • Power/Strength?
  • Check.
  • Opportunity?
  • Check.
  • Authority?
  • Check.
  • Thugs? (I mean, helpers)
  • Check.
  • Chains?
  • Check, and Check.

And off he runs, well, until he doesn’t. He goes from a man striding in utter confidence, to a cautious man, attempting to move haltingly, step by step. Now, he would be guided by the eyesight of others.

And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him to Damascus.

Saul went from the (seemingly) all-powerful persecutor to Saul the powerless, dependent, and needy.

God knows how each person is best reached to encounter the truth.

Saul’s Conversion

And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Makes sense. I mean, how could he eat, or drink? Utterly bewildered, his mind must have been racing.

That crazy, quick encounter must have been going through his mind, over and over again.

“What? How? How could this be? How did I get this so wrong?

Is Jesus actually the Christ? The promised One, the Messiah?

God made flesh, the Holy Son of God?”

And for three days, Christ lay in his tomb. And for three days, Saul is left in his darkness. In his misery. In his baffled, life-turned-upside-down astonished grief.

For what had he done to these people? How had he treated believers in the Way, the Truth, the Life?

In persecuting these Christians, he had been persecuting the Lord, Himself. Ah, the intensity of the realization…the anguish of regret.

It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it, how God gave him those days? He gave Saul time.

Makes us smile to contemplate, how it was that God in His perfect love gave this man of his, this man with a great mind, and great abilities, just brimming with zeal and potential, the needed time. He needed to contemplate just how he had gotten it wrong.

And just what it would mean, to get it right.

And Then…

For most of the rest of the Book of Acts, right until the end of the book, we read how God used His servant Paul to change the world.

But not until He had led him by the Hand.

Don’t you think that He, Himself, graciously and beautifully takes each of us by the hand in our blindness, in our struggle to find our way to Himself?

He specializes in individualized salvation plans. Such are the ways of our God.