The following is the account of Paul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus, one of the pivotal events in the life of the early church. This account is found in the book of Acts, chapter 9 verses 1-19. While you read this, try to put yourself in his place – What is he thinking? What is he feeling?
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus,
so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
As he 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?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Questions For Reflection (Feel free to share your answer(s) in the comments field. I would love to hear your thoughts!)
- How do you think Saul felt when he discovered his wholehearted zealous hate against Christ and Christianity, something he took great pride in, actually made him a villain, instead of the hero he thought he was?
- If you were Saul, how would you feel about your role in the death of Stephen, (see The Conversion of Paul 2) as well as your actions against other followers of Christ now that you knew Jesus truly was who he said he was, the Son of God?
- Again, put yourself in Saul’s place. How would you respond to the fact that in spite of the above, instead of Jesus destroying you for your actions, he showed you mercy by not only forgiving you, but also including you in his future plans?
Make It Personal
How are we all a bit like Saul of Tarsus?