Saul is a young Jew. He’s also a Pharisee to the extreme, pursuing righteous actions with legalistic fervor. He kills in the name of his religion.
Saul sees Jesus’s followers as a threat to his beliefs and the Jewish religious institution. When a Jewish mob stones Stephen, Saul stands as a witness, giving his approval. Stephen’s death sends Jesus’s followers scattering in all directions and sends Saul on a crusade to stop this growing movement. He seeks to imprison those who follow the Way of Jesus, even threatening to kill them.
Planning another string of arrests, Saul travels to Damascus with a group of friends.
On the way there, he encounters Jesus in the form of a heavenly flash of light and hears his voice from heaven. Jesus tells Saul to go to Damascus and wait for further instructions.
Saul’s friends don’t know what to say or think. Though they hear Jesus speak, they see nothing.
After he’s blinded by the light, Saul’s friends guide him to Damascus. He fasts for three days and prays. God sends a vision to Saul of a man, Ananias (2), coming to lay hands on him, so he can see again.
Ananias shows up and confirms that Saul did indeed encounter Jesus. Ananias heals Saul and fills him with the Holy Spirit.
In an instant Saul can see again. He’s baptized and breaks his fast. Then he hangs out with Jesus’s disciples in Damascus for several days. From now on Saul will follow Jesus.
What lengths will God go through to get our attention? Does he have to use drastic measures or are we open to listen?
Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.