By Ken R. Speakman
Member, Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory
In Acts, chapter 9, the Scripture focuses on a zealous young Pharisee named Saul. He is mentioned in chapter 8 as the young man who guarded the robes of those who stoned Stephen. Saul had studied under the brilliant Pharisee scholar Gamaliel. Gamaliel was convinced that the apostles should be left alone (5:34). Saul disagreed and considered them a threat to Judaism and felt they were a blasphemy against the God of Abraham. Saul felt Christians must be exterminated and “The Way” (the earliest designation for Christians) stamped out. Chapter 9 opens with, “Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.”
Saul became known in Judea as the great persecutor of the church, and was sent, with approval from Caiaphas (the High Priest), to arrest believers and bring them bound to Jerusalem. His name filled believers with fear to the point that, even after word of his conversion was out, the believers in Jerusalem would not go near him.
Verse three tells us, “It happened as he was approaching Damascus a light from heaven flashed around him.” This was a tremendous light because we are told in Acts, chapter 22:6, that this happened at noontime, so this blinding light was brighter than the sun. We are told in I Corinthians 15:8, Saul actually saw the resurrected Christ. This was a sight he would never forget. The Lord Jesus spoke to him, “Why are you persecuting me” (v. 4)? Saul now realized this was Jesus of Nazareth who was beaten, crucified, buried, and was raised. He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
Imagine how Saul felt, “This means Stephen, whose death I approved, those in homes I have ripped apart, those I have caused grief, were innocent!” In Acts 22, Saul now Paul told his story. Notice in verse 8, “I said what shall I do Lord?” In this moment of salvation, he addressed Jesus as Lord (v. 5). It should be noted that Paul rarely ever referred to Jesus Christ as just Jesus. While using the name Jesus alone was not wrong, it was rarely done in the epistles.
Saul was struck blind and was led by hand into Damascus where he was without sight and food for three days (v. 9). He was in a room, with no one to help, unaware what the future held. We learn from Acts 22:10 where he told his testimony, Christ told him to wait in Damascus and he would be told what to do.
Everything he had believed was wrong; everything he had stood for was a lie. However, he was about to discover the great call on his life when Ananias visited him and his sight was restored. He was baptized and stayed with the disciples in Damascus for a few days. He immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.
We must never underestimate the power of the gospel to save sinners, even those as unlikely as Saul. Perhaps you hesitate to speak to that person at work who swears, mocks the Bible, and jeers at the foolishness of Christians. The Holy Spirit can use you to be what Ananias was to Saul.