Summary: Part 4 of 4 of the series, Roads of Passion. Saul’s journey to Damascus was met with confrontation, change, and challenge. It is a journey we too need to face as Christians...
The Damascus Road
Read at beginning of service:
Acts 9:1-22 (NIV)
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 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." 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. 11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight." 13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name." 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he 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." 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 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 Christ.
For the last few weeks we have been taking a look at the roads of passion surrounding the events taking place prior to and following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While studying, I have found that in every sense of the word these roads ARE characterized by passion! The Jerusalem, Emmaus, and Narrow Roads have all shown the passion of, passion from, and passion for Jesus Christ. His passion for the lost for the world separated from God, His passion for those who follow Him, and likewise those who are passionate for Him. All of these roads lead to Jesus. The fourth and final road we will be looking at in this series is the Damascus Road. This road also leads to Jesus, and this road also is a road of passion.
Although as we begin, it seems that the traveler on this road seems to have a passion for the wrong thing.
Saul of Tarsus, a Jew among Jews, born into the tribe of Benjamin, blameless according to the law and is a Pharisee with great zeal for tradition. Having sat under the wisdom and teaching of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), one of the greatest teachers among the Pharisees, Saul was quickly advancing through the rank and file of his own, a head above all the others.
In the Acts chapters 7-9 we find this man Saul filled with bitterness and hatred, breathing threats of death to those who followed a man called Jesus. He was a man with a mission, not of mercy but of punishment and pain. Here was a man who was passionate in His own way – but definitely not for the followers of the "Way" – definitely not for the followers of Jesus Christ.