At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 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?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Apart from the amazing miracles of the Messiah, these verses tell one of the most amazing stories in the Bible.
Saul of Tarsus was a wretched man. He was the LAST and I mean THE LAST person in Israel who would’ve been saved. The disciples and all Christians feared Saul for he was responsible for murdering and slaughtering anyone who professed belief in Christ. He was infamous amongst the Christians – comparable to terrorists in ISIS today. Saul was the head honcho terrorist to the Christians.
And then he was saved.
Whenever I read about the conversion of Saul, I always like to immerse myself in what it truly would’ve looked and felt like to see a man who I so deeply feared, now confessing Jesus as the Messiah. To say I would be amazed would be an understatement. I wouldn’t believe my eyes, in fact, I could see myself rubbing them to make sure I was not dreaming – maybe even pinch myself. To the Christians AND the Jews living in Damascus, they couldn’t believe their eyes either. How could this man go from murderer to disciple in a matter of days?
The answer? His amazing grace.
You see, it had to be Saul (Paul). There was no one else so broken, so poisoned by bitterness and revenge who would’ve fallen to their knees any harder than Paul did. God chose the most feared man in Israel as His ambassador to show His people that EVEN Saul, the Christian Killer, could be saved by His amazing grace. Now the housewife, the common man, the prostitute, the tax collector could look upon themselves and consider what the Lord did with Paul and see that EVEN they could be saved by His grace. Again, it had to be Saul.
We may not all be murderers or terrorists, but I know many of us look upon ourselves with the same attitude as Paul did. “I was the last person people would’ve thought would be saved.” Maybe you were an outsider in your family, a rebel amongst your friends, or even an enemy of God’s for a time being. The fact is He is still saving Pauls each and every day. He saves people like you and me for the great testimony we have to tell to those who do not believe. He uses the wretched to display his amazing grace. He uses the broken to shine His redeeming light through. That’s pretty amazing.
Because of the sins Paul committed, he carried his salvation with great responsibility. He lived his life after Christ with a great thorn in his side – a thorn I believe (though many have their theories) symbolizes the guilt he feels for all those he was responsible for murdering. Because of this thorn, Paul lived his life like it was not his own. He lived his life for Christ because he knew that it was Christ alone that gave him a second chance at love, joy, peace – eternal life. The fact of the matter is, Jesus did the same for us. Our salvation, while maybe not as dramatic as Paul’s, is the same as Paul’s. We were wretched sinners, in need of a Savior and Jesus gave us that second chance. For that, I pray we all realize that our lives are not our own, but the one who reached down and pulled us out of the sinking sand that was engulfing us.
Go in that amazing truth today and pray that you find ways to continually lay your life at His feet, just as Paul did.