At the beginning of a new year we often turn to thoughts of transformation. What would transformation look like in my life? This week let’s look at a man who experienced a great transformation that he did not expect and was not planning for. This story is found in Acts 9:1-19. Bible text here.
Let’s get to know a guy named Saul. Saul is a passionate persecutor of Christians. He is so zealous to maintain the traditions of the Jewish faith that he will go to any lengths to stop Christians. As he is on his way to attack Christians in the city of Damascus he is stopped on the road and encounters Jesus.
Saul is going about his business doing what he thinks is right. He is a leader in the Jewish religious community; a member of the Pharisees who were learned religious leaders. Despite his extensive knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures Saul has completely missed the promise of a saviour named Jesus. Now at this moment on the road to Damascus he is stopped by a blinding light and is directly confronted by Jesus. Interestingly, Saul the zealous persecutor does not appear to offer any resistance to Jesus. At the point of encountering Jesus Saul is physically blinded. This is an illustration of a common theme in the Bible; those who think they are spiritually wise and illuminated are often actually walking in spiritual darkness.
At the moment of this encounter Saul seems to have been completely overwhelmed. One moment Saul is blazing down the road intent on persecuting and murdering Christians. The next moment, after encountering Jesus, Saul is passively led by the hand into Damascus. It seems Jesus is already at work.
As Saul is waiting in the city a follower of Jesus named Ananias receives a supernatural vision from Jesus and is called by Jesus to go to Saul and pray for him. Needless to say this would have been incredibly intimidating. Saul’s reputation had certainly preceded him and Ananias had no particular death wish. Up to this point Saul has been fasting and praying in the city now for three days. Saul has also received a vision from Jesus. In Saul’s vision he sees that a man named Ananias will come to him to restore his sight. Jesus has been preparing both men for the moment that is to come and has been front and center in everything that has happened in this story.
Ananias follows through, finds Saul and prays for him. Ananias tells Saul that the same Jesus he met on the road has sent him here. As Ananias prays Saul’s physical sight is restored which is symbolized by something like scales falling from his eyes. Saul has now seen the light of Jesus and along with spiritual illumination his physical sight is restored. In the midst of his physical blindness Jesus has brought spiritual illumination. Saul has encountered Jesus. His life will never be the same.
In fact Jesus had revealed to Ananias the calling that is to be upon Saul’s life. Saul will proclaim the gospel to both the Gentiles and the Israelites. The tables will be turned and instead of inflicting suffering upon others, Saul himself will suffer for Jesus. Not only has Saul found Jesus, but he has been given a calling. “Despite what Saul has done in the past, God has future plans for him.” Over time Saul the persecutor of Christians becomes Paul the Apostle, the greatest Christian missionary of all time. He is totally transformed.
Saul was going 100% the wrong way, yet he was stopped in his tracks and his life was completely turned around by Jesus. How was Saul transformed? It was simply Jesus and simply grace. Paul certainly did not deserve Jesus yet there Jesus was. Jesus is in the business of transformation one life and one moment at a time. What would it look like for you to just rest in God’s grace? Just to believe that in Jesus you can have peace? Do you believe that Jesus can transform your life and your direction? He can!
Until next week,
 Bible Knowledge Commentary page 376
 Life in the Spirit Commentary page 580