Friday (The Conversion of Paul the Apostle): Psalm 68, Acts 9.1-22, John 12.20-50

From: Mark Booker

Today, the church remembers the conversion of Paul (Saul), this enemy turned apostle. Here are three observations from the story of his conversion on the Damascus road in Acts 9.1-22:

  1. “And although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing” (v.8). To see rightly, Paul first had to become blind. The same is true for us. When Jesus walked the earth he said to Paul’s companions, the Pharisees, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (Jn 9.39). By his grace, God made Paul one who could not see in order that he might truly see. To walk by the fire we have kindled (Isa 50.11) is the height of blindness. Our own fire must be put out, we must become blind, so that we might truly see.

  2. No one is beyond the reach of the grace of God. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” (v.1). These acts, Paul says later, made him unworthy to be called an apostle (1 Cor 15.9). But God’s grace is greater than our rebellion, and this grace reached Paul, washed him, and made him new. He knew that he was what he was by this grace (1 Cor 15.10). Such grace is a word of hope to those tempted to believe that they are—because of what they have done, thought, become—beyond God’s favor. It’s also a reminder to those in Christ to never give up on anyone, even our enemies. God’s grace can reach them, and you may be his instrument, which leads to our third observation…

  3. God could have restored Paul’s sight without human intervention just as he took it away. But he didn’t. Instead, he chooses to use Ananias, appearing to him in a vision and telling him to “rise and go” to Saul (vv.11-12). Ananias resists because of Saul’s reputation, but God reiterates his command, “Go,” in v.15. This gave opportunity for a profound (and uncomfortable) lesson about reconciliation, welcome, and love, both for Ananias and for Paul. Those whom God has welcomed we must welcome. So Ananias goes (vv.17-18), not because he wanted to but because he was called to go. Will we? As a result, Paul receives divine healing and empowerment through a man who only four days earlier he wanted dead. What a sign of the power of God to transform human relationships, in this case from enemies to brothers! This is still God’s work. Will we be his instruments, like Ananias, by obeying his word and welcoming those that he has welcomed (Rom 15.7)?