And Something like Scales Fell from His Eyes
The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the most significant events in Church history. It is a testimony to how God can change a man. As I said yesterday, every regeneration of a person is the same as that concerns the nature of the event, for everyone who is born again is made a child of both the King and Kingdom and transferred from the domain of darkness into light. But some have farther to come based on where they were when they were saved. Saul (“Saul” was his Hebrew name, “Paul” his Roman) was a Jewish zealot and persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He hated Christians, the Church, and the Lord of the Church. He was the last person one would expect to become a Christian. But he did. Why? Because God had ordained it so (Galatians 1:15-16). Saul was blinded by a dazzling light and confronted by Jesus himself in a vision. Saul didn’t ask for this, he didn’t pray for this, God just did this to him. And God had a plan for this man.
So we are told that the Lord (meaning, Jesus) told a man named Ananias to go to the place where blind Saul was praying and fasting and to lay his hands on him and heal him, for the Lord had also appeared to Saul in a vision and told him to expect one named Ananias to come to him and heal him of his blindness. Ananias is right to hesitate as Saul had already acquired quite a reputation for harming Christians. But the Lord answered Ananias, saying, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias obeyed, went to see Saul, and laid his hands on him that he might regain his sight and receive the Holy Spirit. Then the former persecutor of the Church was baptized into it and became her first great missionary.
The Lord said that Saul would suffer for the name of Jesus, and a just recompense it was as he had caused so much suffering in the lives of others. Suffering became a theme throughout Paul’s ministry. He told the Christians in Thessalonica that they should even expect it (I:3:4; also see 2 Timothy 3:12). But suffering was worth knowing Christ Jesus for Saul; indeed, he even gloried in it. And this is because one day, he received both his sight and the Holy Spirit at the same time. And Luke described the event as something like scales falling from his eyes. That’s us before we are saved: blind, foolish, hateful, and a slave to our passions. But when God’s mercy appeared to us, we too saw for the first time. Salvation is truly seeing, hearing, and loving for the first time in our lives (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4).