This morning after our online Church Service I went to a mall to purchase KFC and Pizza as our small family were coming over for lunch. We decided to do a finger lunch with chicken, pizza, meat balls, carrots, beans, a host of other finger greens, cheese, rolled pancakes, samosa, etc. Naturally the chicken and pizza needed to be fresh and the nearest mall was only 5 kilometers away. Once I returned home, my one nephew said that mall is very dangerous because there is a huge squatter camp next to it. Some of the inhabitants are so poor, they will target foreign cars to see what they could steal to help them eat. He said that when those targeted stand against the attack they are dealt with most severely. Fortunately I only heard this after I return to where we are staying. Fear can be a debilitating experience for most of us … though not for the converted Saul.
1) Saul got to know the disciples and made himself knowable. To do this he spent time with the disciples
Ac 9:19 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. They needed to get to know this man who was out to destroy the Church but is now a Christian.
They needed to trust Him through getting to know him and his testimony and what he had to say about the Lord Jesus Christ. Was he repentant, authentic, Born Again and demonstrating the Fruits of the Spirit? Here lies a real lesson for us. We cannot expect to be accepted as one of any Church Body as a fully-fledged brother or sister in Christ until we are transparent, make ourselves known and make ourselves knowable. It’s not the Christian lingo or jargon that convinces but a knowledge of one’s character and personality, morals and ethics, behaviour and alignment to the Gospel that convinces people of our authenticity.
2) Saul lost no time preaching the gospel. Not only did he know the Old Testament well, he had personally met and experienced the resurrected Jesus first hand … and Ananias most likely gave him a crash course as to the major differences between Judaism and Christianity! So
Ac 9:20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
There are four things here that are important as Saul starts his Evangelistic Ministry for Jesus. The first is that he wasted no time. The text construction implies that at the same time he spent time with the “disciples”, he started to preach. The “at once” leans towards “immediately. This is needed in the Church today. Too many wait for years and years and then they are still not ready to serve Jesus sharing the gospel in one way or another. The second is that he preached. This is associated with expounding the Bible. Too many today say what they want the Bible to say in place of teaching and preaching what the Bible says. Is this the reason the Church is in such a mess doctrinally and theologically? Thirdly he preached in the synagogues. He started his ministry at the place he knew best … the place the Jews assembled for worship! He was a known authority when it came to preaching the Word. They accepted him. His credentials were good … and they did not know what happened to him. The best place to start sharing the gospel once you are converted is amongst the people who know you. They might be Christian and they might not be Christian … but they become your “training ground” in learning “the how to” in telling people the good news. Fourthly he exposed the true Messiah to the Jews. He preached that Jesus is the Son of God! This must the center of all Christian preaching. Leave “Jesus is the Son of God” out of the message and you are no longer a Christian Witness nor a Christian Church.
3) Saul baffled the Jews.
Ac 9:21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
These Jews, although not from Jerusalem had heard all about Saul and his endeavors to destroy the Work of the Lord Jesus, using all avenues, especially the chief priests. What baffled them was the fact that this Saul who was out to kill the Christian Church was now “proving the Jesus is the Christ” … the long awaited and anticipated Messiah … and he was doing this from the Old Testament Scriptures! As I have said before, we need to use the whole Bible to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! It can be done and it must be done like this so that God’s Spirit might awaken people lost in sin and lead them to the foot of the Cross in surrender, repentance and faith.
4) For Saul the tables turned. Before he was saved he sought Christian for being traitors against Judaism, blaspheming the true God … as he saw it. His intent was to destroy the Church by whatever the means … arresting, jailing, persecuting or even seeing them killed. And now
Ac 9:23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
His brothers in law who supported his persecution of the Christian Church turned against him. As soon as they heard him proving from Scripture that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, they fumed and saw Saul now as an enemy of Judaism, a blasphemer inciting heresy and needed to be killed! Praise the Lord that He allowed Saul to become aware of the Jews plot (v24) … and that his brothers in Christ came to his rescue (v25). Preaching Jesus might be very dangerous for some, not only in “closed” countries, but also in “open” countries. There are people who frequent Churches regularly whilst others now and then. When they hear the terms of the Gospel, they shudder and fume because the Gospel requires lifestyle change, moral change … surrendering to Jesus’ Lordship… and detest and even hate the preacher who brings the news. Beware of this onslaught for it even comes from the nicest people.
Lord, teach us from Saul life and experience to be faithful to the Gospel, not fearing opposition from people. Amen.