Acts 9

1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

20And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

21But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

25Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

28And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

30Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. (Acts 9:1-31, King James Version)

This chapter of Acts recounts the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus by Jesus Christ Himself.

I chose the King James Version of this event, because newer translations, like the NIV and NLT, leave out Christ’s comment about it being hard for Saul to ‘kick against the pricks’, and more importantly, Saul’s first question after learning Who this ‘vision’ was:  “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

Saul, possibly the most dogged and tenacious persecutor of the the early Christians, a Pharisee, obedient to the Law of Moses his entire life, has been hand-picked by our Lord and Saviour to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Saul, the man who was present at the stoning of Stephen, Christianity’s first martyr, who had documentation in hand to bring anyone, man or woman who professed to follow The Way back to Jerusalem, trembled in fear and astonishment. Here was the very Man who had been crucified, ALIVE, shining with a glorious blinding light and speaking to him. The Man whose followers he had vowed to eradicate.

And his very first communication to Him was a question:

“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

His conversion was instantanious. He didn’t ask “Why me, of all people?”  Or “Are you serious??”

His first act, with those words, was to hand his life over to Christ.

As we see later in the chapter, he received the Holy Ghost when Ananias healed his blindness. Today, believers receive the Holy Spirit when they truly believe and confess their sins and ask God for forgiveness. Here, in this passage, Saul, the most ardent of persecutors of the early Christians believed the instant Christ identified himself. And, without hesitation, gave himself over to Christ’s guidance.

Many people believe that Saul, renamed by Christ to Paul, is possibly the greatest of the apostles. I certainly do, though I do want to clarify that I don’t put him before Christ. No, it is my opinion that Paul epitomizes what a Christian should be. Devoted completely to Christ, living his life in God’s will, and gladly evangelizing the Gospel every chance he got.

Of course, we, as mere humans, flawed as we are, can find living one’s life entirely for Christ quite daunting. And too many do not even try to do even simple evangelizing. Certainly, we can’t all travel to the end’s of the earth, preaching the Good News. But we don’t even try to talk to people we know about Christ. Fear of embarrassment, or rejection, or some other reason gets in the way of the Great Commission.

My prayer is that we all, including myself, ask God for guidance and courage to speak to others about Christ and spread the News as He commanded. The Apostle Paul set the standard for us. We should do no less than to follow his example

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