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20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 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 Messiah. 23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews 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. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
People in Damascus and Jerusalem wanted to kill Saul, what does that say about him?
Saul was a highly respected educated Rabbi where he had access to the highest officials in Jerusalem. People listened to what he had to say. He believed that persecution of “The Way” was justified and righteous but his heart was dark. You cracked open his heart when You knocked him off the horse and made him blind, but his character still needed to be transformed. Saul was used to people listening to him, but it was different now. He tried to join himself to the Disciples and tried to prove his intentions were pure. The jews were living under the duress of persecution for their faith and Saul had a reputation that put husbands, wives, children, and parents to death for their faith. I can’t even imagine the emotions involved. The jews harbored hatred for him and wanted to kill him. Saul had to learn to rely on Your strength, not his own. The transition to believer was not an easy one for Saul but in his persistence, with the assistance of disciples, You changed who he was. Saul had to be transformed from the great rabbi to a humble servant of Jesus. The same is true for us today. Becoming a spiritual Christian is not a lightswitch that just turns on a light, it is a journey that is often time off-road and uphill. Help me accept that I cannot navigate this journey without trusting You. When the journey exposes me to disappointments, challenges, hurts, fears, and people who want to do me harm, You are at my side. I need to grab onto Your hand to lean on, to support me, to encourage me and to guide me. Saul ended up being a mouthpiece for Your Gospel because of his transformation. Help me to trust You and rely on other believers when there seems to be no way out. Humble my heart and transform my life so that I can be used for Your kingdom in greater ways. Amen