16 July 2019Acts 9:1-20
And immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ (v. 20)
Psalm: Psalm 5:1-8
At the end of Acts 7 and beginning of chapter 8 we are told of a young man named Saul who approved of the stoning of Stephen. We now meet him again and he is still "threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord"(v. 1). His plan was to go to the city of Damascus with authority from the high priest Caiaphas, to bring back and imprison any followers of "the Way" (v. 2).
Damascus was about 135 miles to the north east of Jerusalem and on a trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. It had a large Jewish population and a number of synagogues, and Saul wanted to try and stop the spread of "the Way" as soon as he could.
As Saul draws close to Damascus he is stopped in his tracks by a bright light and a heavenly voice. This is Saul's 'conversion' experience, though we may ask what exactly this conversion was from and to. Saul believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - that is without question. His mission to stop the Jewish sect called 'the Way' was in order to stop it spreading a rumour that he perceived at that time to be wrong.
When he meets Jesus on the road he is not converted from Judaism to Christianity, but rather his faith is realigned. He now sees Jesus as the Son of God. Where we do see a conversion in Saul is in his character. He is no longer the murderous campaigner but becomes a faithful apostle enduring persecution and imprisonment for the good news he receives on the road to Damascus.
The final verses leave us with Saul proclaiming his realigned faith in the very places he was going to try and eradicate it. The entire story has been converted from one of imprisonment and persecution to that of proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God.
- God continues to reveal to us the truth. When have been the times where you have had your faith realigned? What happened?
- Saul's conversion is dramatic, the original 'Damascus Road Experience'. What has been your experience of God? Have you ever had a moment sudden experience of God or has your experience they developed over a longer period of time?