Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision[a] a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul[b] and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:1-20 NRSV)
How did you become a Christian?
Perhaps you had a dramatic experience on your own road to Damascus. Perhaps you had a specific date and time when you gave your life to Christ. Or you may not remember a time when you weren’t a Christian and since your infant baptism you have steadily grown in your knowledge and faith.
Whatever you’ve experienced, I suggest you’ve had many moments in your life when you experienced the eye-opening.
One of the surprises in this text is the person God calls. While the disciple Steven was stoned for professing Jesus as Lord, people laid their coats at the feet of the very person who had organized the stoning, Saul. There’s no question what kind of man he was, “breathing threats and murder” (v. 1). He was a first century terrorist.
And that’s who God chose to spread the Good News. Out of all of the people of the day, it was Saul that God chose. Saul had been pursued by a God who never abandons anyone.
Does that make your calling from God inferior? Is the lack of a burning bush or Damascus Road experience significant?
Not in the least.
If you did experience a major moment like Saul, what does it mean to you?
Ron sat in the choir loft one Sunday morning listening to the sermon. When he happened to look up he noticed a shadow on the opposite wall that wasn’t usually there. He knew that no one else saw what he did and he realized it was Jesus.
When he related the story to us later, he said, “I don’t see myself honored to have received this sighting. Instead, I wonder if I had been running so long, that God had to get dramatic. I respect others more who didn’t need a sighting to follow our Lord.”
God forgives betrayers and doubters and deniers and murderers. God doesn’t call the worthy because no one is worthy. We don’t earn it. We are called into the experience and invited to say, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Good News is that our God is merciful. God offers mercy and forgiveness to a wide variety of people. We resist the Good News because we think we’re not good enough, that we have to earn it.
But, Christ hopes we will look at our own moments of conversion and how our own blindness has been lifted by a forgiving, merciful God.
What are your moments of conversion? When have felt the peculiar presence of God come in and un-blind your eyes to truth? That makes your experience with God just as important as anyone’s else’s experience, even Saul’s. God pours out Godself in love and mercy.
We can’t begin to know the mind and heart of God. What we know is that we have experiences of God more often than we may realize. When you gained insight that changed your views on that heated topic; when God whispered your name; when you look back on a past experience only to realize that God was involved all along.
How you experienced Christ’s call doesn’t matter. How you responded and answered the call does. Saul could have said no. Ananias could have said, “Are you kidding!? Not on your life!” But both said yes. And the world changed forever.
Every time you answer with, “Here I am, Lord,” you, too, respond to the life-changing grace of God.
All glory and honor be to God.