“As (Saul) neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” – Acts 9: 3-4
His name was Saul. Believing wholeheartedly in orthodox Judaism, Saul persecuted the followers of Jesus until an event occurred one day that forever changed both his life and the course of history. We are all too familiar with religious terrorism today. From attacks on 9/11 to attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, these Islamic terrorists truly believe that what they are doing is right. Saul was no different. He sincerely believed that imprisoning, persecuting and even murdering followers of Jesus was the right thing to do – He was sure that it pleased God.
In Acts 9:1, Saul is described as “breathing threats” against the church. In other words, Saul was completely consumed with anger towards these “heretical Jews” who would abandon traditional Judaism to follow Jesus. So what happened? Suddenly, on the way to Damascus, Jesus, who he thought to be dead, appeared to Saul. Immediately, Saul’s world was completely turned upside down. Everything he had believed in was wrong. It rocked his world to the core. His life’s mission was the opposite of what God wanted him to do. On top of everything else, Saul was struck blind for three days to wrestle with everything that had happened and all that he had done. What a humbling conviction of self-righteous sin in his life.
After three days, God called Ananias to meet Saul. Now for Ananias, this was quite the step of faith. This was the same Saul who was planning to imprison believers in Damascus. Yet, Ananias obeyed God and went to pray for Saul. At that moment, Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit as his spiritual and physical eyes were opened. His life was forever changed.
Have you encountered Christ? Have you come face to face with your sinful past in light of Christ’s love and grace? Saul went from a religious terrorist to the greatest missionary and theologian in the history of the church. What’s your excuse? Do you really think your life has been worse than Saul’s, who became Paul? Confess that you are a sinner in need of God and trust in Jesus as your Savior today. His forgiveness and salvation are available for you, as well.