Sermon Illustrations

Text, Acts 9:23-25, KJV: 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

Thoughts: Saul of Tarsus was on a mission to find followers of Jesus Christ in Damascus, and then bring these believers, bound, to Jerusalem. While on the way, he had the “Damascus Road” experience (recorded in the first several verses), seeing the risen Lord Jesus Christ and eventually becoming a believer himself!

While in Damascus, Saul preached that Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. Eventually, some decided to kill him, and even watched the city gates so that he couldn’t escape. But there were some unsung heroes who helped Saul get out of Damascus. Could he have left, otherwise?

And this is where these unsung heroes come in. The Holy Spirit did not see fit to record the names, nor how many, nor what exactly they did, to help Saul escape Damascus alive. One theory, which I’ve heard occasionally, is that Saul was not just in a basket, but a trash basket! Certain Bible teachers and other resources state that many times, the people of a given city would simply take their trash and dump it over the city walls!

If that was truly the case, this could be a very humiliating experience for Saul. He had come from Jerusalem, with others, ready to place believers in Jesus under arrest, bind them, and take them back to Jerusalem. Now he’s a marked man, risking death whether he stayed or tried to leave. Being tossed out with the trash—if that’s what happened—would be quite a comedown for a rising star like Saul. No wonder he could say later that he was “made as the filth of the world (1 Corinthians 4:13)” as well as the other apostles.

But no matter what, or who, these unsung heroes made sure Saul got out of town—alive—which probably wouldn’t have been the case otherwise. Did they ever hear of Saul’s future, how he became the Apostle Paul? We probably will never know this side of Heaven, but no matter. These men took a bit of a risk (“Hey, what do you have there in that basket?”) to even lower anything down by the wall of Damascus. They did it anyway, and Saul was probably more thankful than he could ever express for what they did. He never forgot, either—in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 Paul mentioned that he was let down in a basket through a window in the wall because the king was guarding the city. Had the ones lowering the basket been caught doing this, one wonders what their punishment might have been.

You and I may never have to face anything like that, either being a Saul, on the run for his life; or unsung heroes who maybe risked their own lives to provide him the opportunity to flee. It’s no secret that in many parts of the world, Christians are being persecuted, even unto death, and some are helping believers escape persecution. If we can’t help personally, we can all pray and do what we can as the Lord leads!

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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