By Tyson Thorne

July 10, 2014

SaulsEscape large

This is the story of a young, upwardly mobile, well-educated family man. He was born a citizen of the greatest empire on earth, and a national of the people of God. He entered the greatest graduate school of his country, learned under its finest instructor, graduated top of his class. He entered into one of the highest religious/political institutions his nation offered. He was clearly on his way to the top, likely with a wife and child. He was a man to be admired, and feared, as he possessed the authority to arrest, try and sentence to death any who opposed his way. This power was executed in his nation’s capital. When the capital city was well enough secured, he began a journey to neighboring cities to place under arrest those who were rising up against his beliefs.

Saul was on his way to “collect” Christians from around Israel, arresting them for blasphemy, a crime punished by death. Many believers, including Ananias, thought it best to steer clear of the murderous Jew, but God had other plans for him, plans accompanying salvation.

When Ananias received a vision from Jesus instructing him to go and heal Saul, he objected (Acts 9.13). He feared that he might become a prisoner of Saul’s, maybe even executed by him. He feared that greater harm would come to followers of “The Way” should Saul not be stopped. Despite his concerns, Ananias feared God more, and went to the house on Straight Street to meet the churches greatest foe.

Jesus’ words to Ananias weren’t all light and goodness, however. While God was calling Saul to become his witness to the Gentile nations he also slipped in a dark peak into the future: “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Sometimes the Christian life takes us to dark places. Usually when we are doing the most good we also greatly suffer. Saul, long after this event, will recount some of the sufferings he endured (2 Corinthians 11.25-.27).

When Ananias arrived he did as he was instructed. He laid his hands on Saul and healed his vision. Overwhelmed with God’s mercy and his second chance he immediately arose and was baptized. We are told that he then took some food to regain his strength, indicating that Saul likely fasted until Ananias came and revealed his fate.

He spent time in Damascus with the disciples there; who these men were besides Luke we are not told, but they answered his questions and caught him up on the Messiah’s mission. Wanting to make right his wrongs he went to the local synagogues to recant his former life and to proclaim Jesus as the long awaited Messiah. The crowds were amazed, for they knew his reputation. Some suspected treachery, that his words were a ruse to lure the Christians out of hiding so that their names might be taken down to later be arrested. The Jews put up with his teaching for some time, wondering themselves if this wasn’t some clever plot. When it became clear that he had joined the other side they crafted a plot of their own to kill him.

God’s plans cannot be thwarted, however. Word of the conspiracy reached the church and they assisted his escape. Knowing the gates to the city would be watched, they lowered Saul through a window in the city wall and he stealthily made his way back to Jerusalem.

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