Yesterday we read how a man that was blind from birth was given his sight by the Lord Jesus (see John 9). Today, we will read where this same Jesus took away the sight of a man who had been able to see all his life. On the surface, this might seem a paradox, but behind it all was the Lord’s intent to give a tremendous blessing to both of the men. Our study today will focus on this second man and the sequence of events that brought about his life changing blessing.
“As he [Paul, the apostle to be] journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” (Acts 9.3-9).
Paul, know as Saul at the time of the events just cited, was an ardent enemy of the Christian faith. To illustrate just how passionate he was and how diametrically opposed he was to Christianity, I want to introduce a quotation from the Jamieson, Faussett, Brown commentary: “Here he is, having perhaps already a seat in the Sanhedrim, some thirty years of age, in the thick of this tumultuous murder of a distinguished witness [Stephen the evangelist; first Christian martyr] for Christ, not only ‘consenting unto his death’ (Acts 8:1), but doing his own part of the dark deed.” Paul’s future was indeed bright in the Jewish hierarchy and it was cemented by his active zeal in persecuting any and all who called upon the name of Jesus. Luke, the inspired historian, makes this comment about him: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” (Acts 8.3).
While on the road to Damascus, it was this anti-Christian attitude that prompted the voice which Paul heard to say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” It is a simple fact that when someone wrongs a believer in Jesus, they wrong Jesus! Paul, by persecuting believers, was persecuting Jesus! His mistake was not an intentional one; he truly believed that Jesus was an impostor and that all who followed him were worthy of death. Even though he was 100% convinced of these facts, Paul was 100% wrong!
It is true that Paul was smitten blind as result of the power and magnificence of Jesus Christ. At least for the moment, one might question just how great this Jesus was by punishing someone who was merely following his conscience. However, this is not the end of the story. As a well-know radio commentator says, “Now for the rest of the story.”
Paul went into the city just as he had been instructed; it was there that Paul was to be told what he must do. In parallel, God prepared a disciple, Ananias, to go to Paul with some good news – both physically and spiritually. Three days later when he arrived where Paul was staying, Paul’s blindness fell away like scales from his eyes. Paul then received the greater news by being baptized and washing wash away his sins (Acts 22.16). Sometimes one has to become blind before he can see! Such it was with Paul the apostle!
1. Why could Saul/Paul not see after his encounter with Jesus?
2. What had Saul done that caused Jesus to ask him why he was persecuting Him?
3. When Ananias appeared to Saul, what evidence did Saul have that Ananias was telling the truth and that he really had been sent on a Divinely appointed mission?
4. Can you give illustrations that support the statement, “Sometimes one has to become blind before he can see!”
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