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Jesus turned murderous Saul’s life around in a moment

May 4, 2024

Daily Scripture

Acts 9:1-9, 20-22

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still spewing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest, 2 seeking letters to the synagogues in Damascus. If he found persons who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, these letters would authorize him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 During the journey, as he approached Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven encircled him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice asking him, “Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?”
5 Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are harassing,” came the reply. 6 “Now get up and enter the city. You will be told what you must do.”
7 Those traveling with him stood there speechless; they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 After they picked Saul up from the ground, he opened his eyes but he couldn’t see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind and neither ate nor drank anything.

20 Right away, he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues. “He is God’s Son,” he declared.
21 Everyone who heard him was baffled. They questioned each other, “Isn’t he the one who was wreaking havoc among those in Jerusalem who called on this name? Hadn’t he come here to take those same people as prisoners to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul grew stronger and stronger. He confused the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

An energetic, brilliant young Pharisee in Jerusalem named Saul hated the new Jesus faith. Eager to stamp out any hint that Jesus was the promised Messiah, he went as far away as Damascus in Syria. Then, in one stunning moment, the risen Christ himself changed everything. Acts told that pivotal story three times (cf. Acts 22:1-16 and Acts 26:12-20 as well as today’s passage). As this week’s worship Scripture reading noted, in another crucial moment a Christian named Ananias bravely went to the man who’d come to town to arrest and maybe kill him, restored his sight, and likely baptized him (cf. Acts 9:10-19). Acts said Saul began preaching about Jesus “right away,” and soon shifted to using his Roman name, Paul (cf. Acts 13:9) to better reach Gentile hearers. He was now passionate and driven to share persuasively that Jesus was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah.

  • Saul set out for Damascus intending to arrest “persons who belonged to the Way” (i.e. believers in Jesus). Yet as the light shone around him, Jesus’ voice asked, “Why are you harassing ME?” As a Christ-follower, have you realized that Jesus identifies himself that closely with you—that anything that hurts or harasses you also hurts Jesus? How can it give you strength each day to trust that Jesus faces all life’s joys and sorrows right along with you (cf. Hebrews 2:14-18)? Saul met Jesus in a dramatic, forceful way (perhaps because he had resisted many chances to respond to the message delivered in other ways, as Acts 26:14 hints). How did you meet Jesus? Was it a one-time moment, or were there multiple movements toward (and maybe away from) Jesus as Lord of your life? What does it tell you about “the wideness in God’s mercy” that God seems to meet each person in a way that fits their life and personality?


Lord Jesus, when you met Saul and then worked through Ananias to open his eyes and his heart, he went on to change millions of lives by his preaching and writing. Give me a listening heart open to meet you as you reach out to my heart. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Nick Kaufmann Mamisashvili

Nick Kaufmann Mamisashvili

Nick Kaufmann Mamisashvili serves as Connection & Care Pastor at Resurrection's Downtown location.

Paul was dumbstruck. His “old life” of persecution and a harsh, rule-based religion could no longer serve him. Jesus mentioned something like this happening to his converts in Luke 5:37-39. It reads, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins and will spill out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says ‘The old is good.'” I’ve never seen a wineskin, but I can imagine it bursting open like the bottom of a single plastic bag ripping open from the weight of a gallon of milk. What a mess!
The most transformational experiences are messy. The birth of a baby? Messy. A heart transplant? Messy. Overcoming an addiction? Messy. All humanity experienced one of these messy transformations on Christmas Eve in 1968. The crew of Apollo 8, on their fourth orbit around the moon, snapped the iconic color photograph we famously know as “earthrise.” The Earth is floating in the cosmos, suspended in space, and we live, move and have our being on this giant, wet, rock. From the distance of the moon, you can’t see wars, poverty, hunger, racism or bigotry. We only see us; lifeforms who are interdependent for survival. I think our conversions to the Way of Jesus are like what we see in earthrise. We see a single planetary system. What one of us does can affect the greater good. This is true for all of our existence on Earth across history. Similarly, one person’s conversion to the Way of Jesus, hundreds of years ago can affect someone’s way of life now, in the present. Saul’s conversion has affected all Christians over the past 2,000 years. Our conversions are all interconnected and interdependent. Ananias showed up for Saul. Who shared the good news of Jesus Christ with Ananias? Who shared it with you?
Pastor Scott preached that Ananias, after having received God’s invitation to demonstrate mercy to a broken Saul, sets the stage for a converted Paul to change the world. We, too, become the inflection point, the turning point, people are longing for. Nothing we do in life (especially as Christians) is done in isolation. We are interdependent. Even our conversion stories (moment by moment) are interdependent. Ananias’ undocumented conversion story affects his faithfulness to be a vital actor in Saul’s conversion story, later. The Apostle Paul’s conversion story has affected every Christian down the line for millenia. So, may we be reminded often of what we see in earthrise… that who we’ve become and who we are becoming is affected by generations of people before us, and can affect generations of people yet to come. Let us be united as one body in ministry to an entire interdependent world. 
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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.