Acts 9 tells us of the conversion of a man named Saul. He was a Jewish man, opposing the church of Jesus Christ, and even arresting and approving of the death of Christians. He was an enemy of God’s church. And then he meets Jesus. In an instant he is converted. Jesus confronts him, blinds him, and saves him.
Saul changes his mission – or, more accurately, God changes Saul’s mission. On his way to Damascus to persecute the church, he ends up preaching sermons and proving Jesus to be the Christ to Jews in the synagogues rather than ravaging the homes of Christians. He’s a changed man, and the disciples, much less the Jews, aren’t sure what to make of him.
He has two attempts on his life in verses 20-30. The Jews try to kill him in Damascus and in Jerusalem. It’s not going well for him. Every comfort he once had is gone and in its place is the fear of death. But he doesn’t seem to mind. The disciples have to remove him (I’m guessing against his will) to Caesarea so his life would be spared. He’s relentless for Jesus.
The entire episode is amazing for its historical importance, its intense drama, and its witness to the power of Christ. But what has struck me the most as I’ve read and thought over it is how Saul goes from an enemy of the church to a brother in the church in a matter of a few verses.
Where else in the world can this happen but in the church, where everyone is saved by the same gospel and brought into the same family of God? How beautiful is the reality of salvation, that it makes enemies brothers and restores and reconciles relationships so that opponents become family?
May God continue to save and bring unity to his Church.
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” Acts 9:1
“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hand on him he said, ‘Brother Saul…’” Acts 9:17
From an enemy to a brother. Grace upon grace.
“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7