Luke has been telling us about the road trip adventures of Phillip, and now it would seem that Saul is about to hit the road as well. He has continued his persecution of the disciples in Jerusalem, and now he wants to make this outrage part of a road show, so he went to the chief priest for permission and gets it. As he was travelling towards Damascus with his goal more or less in sight, he has an encounter on the road that would change his life entirely, for he runs into none other than the risen Christ (9:1-1-3). Jesus, in a very bright light has a question for old Saul:
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. (9:4-5)
There is great significance in these verses, for Saul was out persecuting Christians, but Jesus, the risen Savior who sits at God’s right hand, sees things quite differently for in His eyes, Saul is persecuting the very One by whose Word the entire universe is held together. Notice, that Jesus says so here in both verse four and verse five. It was a fact in Saul’s day and it is a fact today, that anyone who persecutes the followers of Christ is persecuting Jesus Himself, and though I can take no real pleasure in saying so, they, will suffer for it.
You all know the story from here; Saul’s companions must lead him by the hand the rest of the way into town, for Saul has lost his sight. There they are to wait at a certain house for further instructions. Those instructions are actually given to a man named Ananias, who receives his instructions with some trepidation:
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (9:11-16)
I think Ananias’ concern was very reasonable, don’t you? Yet Jesus has a plan for this Saul of Tarsus, and Ananias had a vital role in bringing His plan to fruition, and he obeys the Lord immediately, reminding us of the previous account of how Phillip did exactly what he was told to do. Saul’s sight is restored, Ananias baptizes him, and he rests up for what might come next, and we will see what that ends up being next time…