For some, this may be a familiar phrase “The road to Damascus”. If you know this account, try to read it brand new and see it from God’s perspective. The person in your life or in this world who is LEAST likely to become a FAITHFUL follower of Christ can. So when you pray for that person, do you say “no way” when you end?? Do you not believe that God can?
- was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around AD 5 in modern-day Tersous, Turkey.
- He was from the tribe of Benjamine
- His parents were Pharisees—fervent Jewish nationalists who adhered strictly to the Law of Moses—who sought to protect their children from “contamination” from the Gentiles.
- Saul’s family were Roman citizens but viewed Jerusalem as a truly sacred and holy city
- At age thirteen Saul was sent to Palestine to learn from a rabbi named Gamaliel, under whom Saul mastered Jewish history, the Psalms, and the works of the prophets.
- Saul becomes a lawyer, and all signs pointed to his becoming a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court of 71 men who ruled over Jewish life and religion.
- Saul became determined to eradicate Christians, ruthless in his pursuit as he believed he was acting in the name of God. (I think of him as a religious terrorist)
- He approved the stoning of Stephen AND held the clothes of the “stoners” so when they hit the main artery the blood would not squirt and soil their garments.
Damasus was about a 6-day journey on foot from Jerusalem. (Currently the capital of Syria). Nabatean King Aretas ruled the large city in Saul’s day and it was a hub for Jewish families and Synagogues. Saul took it personally that anyone would be a convert in such a major Jewish Community. He was given permission by the High Priest to arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem for a reason: He did not have Roman authority to kill them there, he needed the Sanhedrin authority and that was limited to Judea.
OK, enough of me rambling. Read the story and be amazed. We tend to concentrate on the experience on the road, the theophany of Jesus, the 3 days, the “I was blind but now I see”, BUT this is about two men being called, not just one. Ananias is called to care for the most dangerous man in town. In obedience, his first word to Saul is “Brother”.💜
Also, when the Prophets were “lamenting” about how could the capacity of the Hebrews in the Old Testament bring anything good- we see now a vehicle for sharing the Gospel-The Synagogue. Without the captivity, the Jews never would have built hundreds of Synagogues for teachers to share a sermon or a message. Saul uses these as his platform to teach. However, it is very clear from God’s statement to Ananias that Saul will also bring a strong message to the Gentiles. (What??? Oh, Saul’s parents would roll over in their graves if they heard this!!)
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
Just marinate on that whole paragraph for a minute.
Yesterday we read about Acts 1:8 and 8:1. And NOW look…
31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Just as Jesus commanded, with the Power of the Holy Spirit, Peter continues Jesus’ ministry in healing. Aeneas and Dorcas are healed not for their sake, but as a witness to the power of Jesus, and The Way continued to grow. To the GENTILES
Cornelius is a Centurian (wealthy military commander of Rome, in charge of 100 men) from Caesarea. Just hearing the name of the city we know that it is named after Caesar so it will be a gentile Roman major city. Peter (oh how I love him) enters the house and opens with-
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Bless! He is comparing them to unclean animals! Imagine if someone came to your house like that. But that was the point of the vision from the Lord.-“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”-
God does not show favoritism.
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
and then shares the Gospel in a Gentile community, and it will be scattered and taken back to Roman towns.-
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”