But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened,he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Summary – These six verses are an amazing turn of events. This stark change may be seen in the following chiastic outline:
Saul is breathing threats and murder
Saul looks for permission to persecute Christians in Damascas
A light shines on Saul on the road
Christ appears to Saul
Those with Saul cannot see anything
Saul is taken to Damascus following his conversion
Saul neither ate nor drank
Saul goes from viciously seeking the lives of Christians to peacefully waiting on the Lord and being himself a Christian. In essence, he goes from Saul to Paul.
Insight – Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Wow, that person has no hope of ever becoming a Christian”? I know I have. But the story of Paul’s conversion to Christ shows us just how terrible of a person God is capable of turning to Himself. Saul was as far from a Christian as you can imagine: try to think of a way for Saul to hate Christians more than by wanting to kill them! But Christ met Saul, in the middle of his campaign for blood, and did something in Saul’s heart right then and there. Notice his response is “Who are you, Lord?” followed by obedience to God by going to Damascus and waiting for further instructions. The Saul who was “breathing threats” in verse one would have responded to God brashly and angrily. But instead the new Saul, the Paul we know, was obedient to God’s commands. In this resurrection season, remember that it is God who changes hearts, even the hearts of the people who hate Him most.
Child Catechism – After Saul became a Christian, what did his name become? His name became Paul
Discussion – Discuss the significance of Saul’s blindness after his encounter. What do you think those travelling with Saul did after he had his encounter and became blind?
Prayer – Our Sovereign Lord, you and only you can quicken a dead heart to faith in you. Work your kingdom purposes in this world with power that the whole of creation would model heaven, including the awakening of dead hearts to your service. We ask that you continue your softening of our heard hearts to fleshly hearts, that our thoughts and words would please and glorify your holy name. Through Christ our Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, Amen.