And one wonders, could that have been his lot. Jesus has taken him out of the game, he’s no longer a threat to the new Church, he’s gone. Left to his own devices, he might have survived a few years as a beggar, lost and obliterated, a tragic case, poor Saul, they say, he lost his mind.
But no. Jesus has a preferred way of dealing with his enemies. He prefers to convert them to become his devotees, his followers, his servants, his loyal and dedicated people. He doesn’t want to wipe them off the board, he wants to bring them to his side. Those who have been forgiven much tend to love much. What Saul needs of course is the restorative touch of the Holy Spirit.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision. “Ananias!”
As you can understand, the more disciples that have received the Holy Spirit, the more Jesus is able to coordinate them to a single effect. And by this time there are many thousands, tens of thousands, of men and women who have believed the Truth and received the Spirit. What started as a dozen fiery tongues is now a multitude of transformed individuals who cannot help but set more fires everywhere they go. Like Samson’s foxes, but with more regard for animal welfare. See Judges 15:4.
“Yes Lord”, answered Ananias.
“Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.”
I bet he was. Praying for his life. Like he never prayed before.
“In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him and restore his sight.”
I love this next bit. Ananaias tries to negotiate with the Lord, voicing his concerns regarding the wisdom of such an act.
“Lord” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man, and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
In other words, Lord, this really isn’t a good idea. It’s really not.
‘But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Acts 9:15 49
And in that last sentence, Jesus reassures Ananias that yes, he the Lord knows full well of the sins of Saul, and reassures him that he, the Lord, is in charge now.
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
One could say this is the true beginning of Saul’s conversion. When he receives the Holy Spirit.
Extract published from All People Must Know