Reading: Acts 9:1-43
Focus: Acts 9:21-22
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.
Best. Conversion Story. Ever!
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating – every conversion story is a miracle in its own right. There’s a big fiesta in Heaven EVERY time a prodigal son or daughter finds their way home. But if there was ever a story that gave you hope for the hopeless, this is it.
Saul was just a bad dude. Of course he didn’t think so and many of his fellow Jews didn’t think so either. As far as Saul knew, he was just carrying out his zeal for the Lord – protecting his people from this false prophet, Jesus. Arresting, torturing, and murdering Jesus’ followers were just part of his job – a job he seemed more than content to do. In fact, it would appear he took great pride in it. He truly believed that what he was doing was in service to God. He thought he had it right, but he was so very far from God.
We know he was surprised by this crazy event on the road to Damascus. But more importantly, we can see that he was broken by it. He was undone. Ruined. To find out how completely and totally wrong he had been – and probably with that came the realization of how many people had been arrested, tortured, and killed under his watch – completely devastated him. He just prays for the next 3 days, doesn’t eat, doesn’t drink – just prays until Ananias comes to see him and give him his sight back.
So Saul becomes Paul and his ministry begins! Did you know that if Saul had remained a Jewish Rabbi, 13 out of the 27 books of the New Testament would never have been written? And the major expansion of the early church to the Gentiles would not have happened. The Christians were afraid of him and the non-Christian Jews were baffled by him. The most unlikely candidate to be an apostle of Jesus was shouting from the roof-tops that Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God.
Do you have a Saul in your life? That person that you may not even pray for because you think there’s no way he/she will EVER become a Christian? Well, here’s our wake-up call, our encouragement for the day. Saul became Paul.
Let’s let ourselves be astonished at the redemptive power of the Gospel. No one is too far. No one is too lost. The person you’re thinking of doesn’t even have to be looking for God – Saul wasn’t. God is in relentless pursuit of His children – and He has the power to change even the hardest of hearts. So keep praying!
Lord Jesus, thank You for the example You set when Saul became Paul – no one is too far for You to reach. Help me to remember that as I go through my day and open my eyes to see Your amazing redemptive power in the lives of those around me. In Your powerful name I pray, Amen.