I am a firm believer that when God speaks to me He speaks through His Word. This might be as I read and meditate upon the Word or when I listen to or watch the Bible being expounded. This does not mean God cannot or may not speak in other ways, but these are chiefly how He speaks to His people today.
1) Did you notice in our Note yesterday that the Lord Jesus spoke to Ananias? Once he heard the words—
Ac 9:15 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. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
—he responded immediately!
Ac 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.
O that we would be as obedient as this! Too often we tarry, wasting precious time when we ought to be about eternal business. Ananias knew that Saul was blind and he knew what he needed to do to rectify the blindness, so he entered the house.
A friend lent me his car for these past two weeks. I had it washed in the week but those doing the cleaning did not do a great job so I took it to a “Car Wash” again this afternoon. They had a slight backlog and I needed to wait about 1 ½ hours before they could clean the car. Right next door was a “Coffee Shop”.
A young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was running the shop. We started chatting. He said he was a Christian but was disillusioned with the Church because as he said … “the Church has become a business and no longer a place of true prayer and worship”. This is true in many cases. I had the opportunity of speaking to him about Jesus, referring to various Scriptures and directing him to the nearest Church (in the Federation of Churches I belong to). Before I left, I prayed with him. He was extremely happy that someone took an interest in him and his eternal wellbeing.
Let me backup … I had decided this morning to wash the car myself after I visited a locksmith to purchase a battery for a gate remote. On the way home it was like I needed to “get the car washed”. Without knowing where to go, I stopped at a petrol station to fill the car with petrol and asked the attendant where the nearest carwash was. He smiled and looked up saying … you see the Spar Shop there … immediately after it you will turn right into a carwash. I somehow feel God had guided me to speak to that young man. Don’t be too stubborn about places, times and planning. Sometimes God needs you to be like Ananias and be radical … for His Kingdom sake!
2) Why did Ananias place his hands upon Saul? Placing his hands on Saul … At times we do this when we pray for people. When I was made a deacon and later ordained as a presbyter, the bishop laid hands on me. Why do they do this and why did Ananias do this to Saul? Before we answer that question, let us look at the rest of the verse.
(1) Ananias calls Saul “Brother Saul”. This is significant because Ananias, who knew about Saul’s murderous aggression against the Church of God, having been spoken to by the Lord Jesus, who was to use Saul as an instrument to present the Gospel to the Heathen, kings and Israelites, is now identified as a brother in Christ! The spinoff would be that all the other followers of Jesus in Damascus would follow Ananias’ example and accept Saul as a Blood Washed child of God. They would accept Saul and not fear him. They would know that his conversion was authentic and not fake. We too need to be cautious not to reject people who say they are followers of Jesus. Let them prove they are not before we reject what God has accepted.
(2) Ananias refers to “the Lord” … which is God’s name, calling Him Jesus! He wants Saul to know that the one he encountered on that Damascus Road is the one who sent him to him. The one he was persecuting—
Ac 9:4 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
—is the one who sent him to Saul. We need to be very clear in whose name we address people when we evangelize. The authority behind us is not the Church or a Church. The authority behind us is not a bishop or a clergyman. The authority behind us is not religion or some supposed miracle we intend doing or some unintelligible language. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. We serve Him and His Cause in His Name alone!
(3) Ananias’ visit’s purpose … has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The purpose is two-fold … firstly to heal his loss of vision and secondly, that he might be filled with the Spirit.
Ac 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.
The blindness was symbolic of spiritual darkness showing Saul that his religiosity and legalism (Pharisaism) reflected a dead, lifeless soul that rebelled against the Living God. His three day blindness gave him ample time to consider his sin in general and his specific sin against the Lord Jesus and His Church. Now, as Ananias lay hands on him, and I would assume there was prayer, something material, like scales fell, off Saul’s eyes.
This vivid act was a physical act, demonstrating the invisible power of the Holy Spirit coming to heal him of his spiritual blindness and lost-ness as well as coming to dwell within him through the New Birth. For Saul, this experience showed without a doubt that Jesus and His Gospel are from God and not man. It showed him that the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus replaces the Old Covenant in animal blood making it obsolete.
As we shall see throughout Saul’s (who becomes Paul) missionary ministry, his chains of legalism and Pharisaism fell off and he was set free from the religious bondage he was in. He was indeed a new creation in Jesus Christ.
It’s time for reflection again! Are you a new creation in Jesus? Has your spiritual scales fallen off because the Holy Spirit has birthed you into God’s Eternal Kingdom? Or … are you still playing the religious game of thinking you are “okay” but in reality you are spiritually dead and sadly, bound for eternal death should you not turn to God in repentance and faith?
3) Saul was baptized immediately. We are not told where this was done, or by whom, nor the amount of water available or used. Why? Because these things are actually irrelevant! It was necessary that he identify with Jesus and “The Way” immediately to proof he had surrendered to Jesus and Christians should no longer be afraid of him as he started a New Chapter by serving a New Master for a New Cause! You see, again as we are faced with Christian Baptism we need to understand its purpose. It is not for self but for those watching. They need to see that our public statement can be matched against the behavior they see.
4) Saul then ended his fast, ate food, regained his strength and went forward serving Jesus as Lord and King. Christians need strong healthy bodies to serve the Lord.
Our Father, the ways in which You work are so amazing! Each believer was blind and You gave light and sight to the soul through Your Spirit. Amen.