Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Discipleship — Call for MissionActs 9:1-15
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.”
Firstly, a quick background, we read in Acts 7, the brutal death of Christ ‘s follower Stephen who was martyred by being stoned to death for his faith. This completely shook followers of Christ who were called ‘Followers of the Way ‘ ( later Christians) community who were few in numbers and were under tremendous threat that the persecution would continue and many of the followers feared their lives were under threat. We fast forward to Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9: 1-5, and we see devout Jew by the name of Saul from Tarsus who was spearheading a persecution campaign to annihilate the ‘followers of the way’ who had professed their faith in Jesus Christ. Saul had sought the permission of the Sanhedrin (Religious Council) in Jerusalem to embark on a trip to Damascus in Syria to persecute Christians as far as Damascus who scholars believe fled to Damascus to escape the persecution and secure their lives away from the persecuting Jews in Jerusalem.
Acts 9: 2-5 is what scholars title ‘Road to Damascus ‘conversion experience that transformed Saul of Tarsus to Paul the Apostle. Saul did not realize that while he was on his high horse on persecution campaign he would encounter the Living Christ who would confront him and ask the question ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Saul was not only blinded and thrown down from his horse but also given instructions to follow the very Jesus Christ that he was persecuting.
Today, many of us including me have been on the ‘Road to Damascus’ and Jesus Christ had to step in, transform us by Jesus’ Shining Light and convert our lives and make a ‘Paul‘ out of many of us. What is so dramatic of the verse 5 is that Paul having suffered a setback, is rendered helpless and blinded that he had to follow instructions that was given to him by the Jesus he encountered. As much as this conversion experience is life changing for Saul, we who have been on the same road and transformed by the resurrecting power of the Risen Lord, now have a new life that echoes the statement in book of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and I paraphrase ‘ we are new creation, the old has gone and new has come‘ with new identity and new zeal to serve the Risen Lord.
Acts 9:6-9 we see completely helpless, blinded, Saul who has not eaten for three days, this Saul who had terrorized Christians and was so zealous of his Jewish heritage was suddenly reduced to person who had to led by others to even move around. At times and this happens to most of us, we too feel that we are suddenly reduced to the rock bottom unfortunate, our lives, where all the power, possession and heights we thought we have achieved has been brought to the ground and we feel helpless and its very unfortunate but God has to do this to our lives to transform us to instruments God can use for the Glory of His Kingdom. For those of us who have watched the recent Jesus Revolution which is true story based on the life of Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries, one can see how Pastor Greg Laurie had to hit rock bottom for God to raise him up and utilize him as an Evangelist that has brought large number of souls to Christ in Southern California.
Acts 9:10-15 we see how Ananias was very hesitant to reach out and help Saul for Ananias feared Saul who had a bad track record and terrorized Christians would fall back on his bad ways once Saul got better and had his eyes restored. God had to assure Ananias that would not be the case and in verse 15 which I have chosen as the Key verse we see how God proclaims that Saul is ‘God chosen instrument ‘that will glorify God among the Gentiles and the Jews. This applies to our modern day lives where we hear the story of some many convicts, murderers, rapists, and serial killers who have turned their lives over to Jesus who have turned their lives around, but we are still skeptical and not sure if the experience is real and any time these criminals can fall back on their bad lives. I recall the life of Ted Bundy who was serial killer in the 1970s. Ted before he was executed confessed to Dr James Dobson of the Focus on the Family organization, that despite all the heinous crimes he had committed, Ted was certain he would be forgiven by God and that assurance comes only when one goes through the experience of being washed by the Blood of Jesus and as the book of John 1:12 , we earn the right to be ‘ children of God’.
Lord, we are so grateful that each of us have ‘Road to Damascus’ experience and its God’s benevolent grace that transformed our lives so that we can be used for God’s Kingdom and bring glory to God as we see in the life of Apostle Paul.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I'm found, Was blind but now I see“ – John Newton
Immanuel Mar Thoma Church, Houston, Texas.