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Broken Prosecutor to Restored Proclaimer by Pastor Paul Becker

Acts 9:1-17


When you think about standing before God on Judgement Day, do you wonder if you will be good with God? Are you banking on your morality and good deeds, a completed checklist of religious obligations, or even being zealous to demand compliance with the scriptures? If so, you are in good company with Saul, a rising star in Jewish religious life as a teacher of the Law. Acts 9 opens with the story of Saul's "come to Jesus meeting."


Saul was admired as a righteous man who was zealous for the things of God. He and his band of brothers were on a mission to hunt down the men and women of the "Way," people who believed and proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus and sought to follow his commandments. Saul secured legal authority to synagogues in Damascus to make arrests. His motivation was filled with religious fervor to elevate and preserve Jewish morality, culture and religious duty.


As he neared Damascus, a light from Heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The answer he received was this: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."


Let's hit the pause button on this story. In essence, Jesus told Saul:

 

"I am the One who was crucified, dead, buried by people like you. I am the One who was resurrected and ascended into Heaven. I am God, and the people of the Way speak the truth about me. When you persecute those who believe and follow me, you persecute. Saul, when you slight my people, you slight me. We are one with each other. You are a "God persecutor."


Saul's world was turned over and scrambled. His capacity to live as a man of God, under his own and culturally approved terms, was destroyed. Saul was blinded by Jesus' glory. Those who traveled with Saul did not see the revelation of Jesus' glory, but they heard his voice and led Saul by the hand to Damascus.


The Lord also started transformative work on his followers, specifically Ananias. He told Ananias to go to the house where Saul was led. Saul's reputation among Jesus' followers was well-known and rightly feared. It appeared to Ananias that he had to remind the Lord about Saul's reputation. He had significant reservations about obeying the Lord. Here's a question: How are we like Ananias when the Lord prompts us to do something we fear to do? The Lion of Judah is not a tame lion. When he roars, proper fear puts us into a posture of submission, and his roar offers us protection against spiritual enemies so that we can do as he commands.


The Lord declared (roared) that Saul was his chosen instrument to proclaim his name to the Gentiles, their kings, and the people of Israel. Ananias submitted himself to Jesus. He did what was commanded and received Saul as a brother in the Way. Saul's sight was restored, he was baptized, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus, and at once, he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.


How can this story apply to us? Looking at Saul, a "true come to Jesus moment" will put us into a necessary relationship with faithful followers of Jesus. Looking at Ananias, a true follower of Jesus will offer the hand of fellowship and receive a repentant sinner as brother or sister. Ask yourself this question: How am I following the lead of the Holy Spirit to practice my faith in a way that is united with the presence of Christ in his Church?


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