The New Testament tells us of a man named Saul. He was a deeply religious man who tried to obey all of God’s commands as well as the traditions of the religious leaders; but he was so focused on religious purity that he had somehow lost sight of God. The followers of Jesus at that time were known as “the Way” because Christ had identified Himself as “the way, the truth and the life” and openly declared that no one could come to God the Father except by Him. Saul hated these Christ-followers and persecuted them mercilessly, even traveling to the city of Damascus to arrest those he could find there. But something stopped him in his tracks. Acts 9:3-6 tells us, “3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul was actually blinded by the intensity of the light and had to be led into the city. For three days he was unable to see. He ate and drank nothing, so deep was his grief at realizing who he truly was and what he had actually been doing. But God did not leave him in that condition! The Lord called another of Christ’s disciples, a man by the name of Ananias, to go to Saul and restore his sight. You can understand the hesitation Ananias felt at such a dangerous command. He knew the kind of man Saul had been and what he had come to do; but in obedience to the Lord’s instruction, Ananias went to find the blinded persecutor. Placing his hands on him, Ananias said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” At that very moment, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see. He was immediately baptized as a Christ-follower and went on to become a great preacher and a passionate advocate for Christ, later going by the name Paul.
What a transformation we see in the life of Saul! That encounter on the Damascus road changed him completely and brought him into a relationship with the very person he had been so against: Jesus! When those scales fell from his eyes he could see in a spiritual sense what he had not been able to before; and he dedicated his life to sharing the very good news that he had once been determined to stamp out! Saul had been sincere and devoted in his early beliefs; but he must have known deep in his heart that no matter how hard he tried to be perfect, he could never be right with God. He would later say that he considered all his legalistic accomplishments as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.
I am so thankful that God does not treat us as our sins deserve. He is the God of second chances, and He is willing to give all of us a new life that we could never have imagined possible if we will simply ask Him who He really is, just as Saul did. This new life of love and relationship with Him does not depend on our own legalistic righteousness — our own efforts to win His approval — but rather it rests on what Christ has done for us in reconciling us to the Father through His death on the cross. Truly He is the Way, the Truth and the Life!
Blessings on your day,
© July 10th 2018