Summary: Because of his courage and obedience, Ananias is a model unsung hero.
Unsung Heroes: Ananias
Have you ever heard of Jeremy Lin? Some of you have, but many of you probably have not. Jeremy Lin is a basketball player in the NBA. He plays for the Knicks, but up until this past February, very few people had ever heard of him. No one thought he could compete in the NBA. He sat on the bench and was traded around through multiple teams. It was not until the Knicks were plagued by injuries that Lin was finally put in the game on February 4th. Then everything changed. Jeremy Lin led his team to a 99-92 point victory over the New Jersey Nets scoring 25 points, pulling down 5 rebounds and 7 assists. For those of you who do not follow basketball, that’s good. Lin led his team on a winning streak that shocked everyone. Another thing you may care to know about Jeremy Lin is that he professes to be a Christian. He speaks about his faith openly.
We love stories like this, don’t we? We love to hear about underdogs coming off the bench to make the big plays that win the game. For a long time, Jeremy Lin was nobody, but now he has come out of nowhere to shock the nation and bring glory to Christ along the way.
Today we are starting a new sermon series looking at unsung heroes in the Bible. So often when we read the Bible, all we see are the superstars and the franchise players. We see the Michael Jordans and Shaqeal O’Neals like the Apostles Peter and Paul. We see the Old Testament men like Abraham, Moses, and David. Sometimes we feel like these guys are too big. We have trouble relating to men of such stature. We think, “I will never have the faith of Abraham or be an Apostle Paul.”
That is why it is so helpful to look at some of the unsung heroes in the Bible, the other men and women who were just as faithful to Christ, but who seem a little more like us. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Acts 9 this morning. We will begin by looking at an unsung hero named Ananias, but in order to understand the story of Ananias, we first have to understand the story of the Apostle Paul.
Before he became the Apostle Paul, he was the Pharisee Saul. As a Pharisee, Saul was extremely zealous for the Jewish faith, and he saw Christians as blasphemers and heretics who were corrupting his beloved faith with the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Saul took it upon himself to unleash a campaign of destruction against the followers of Christ. He arrested any he could find and cast them into prison. We do not know what happened to Saul’s prisoners, whether they were tortured or killed. However, we do know that Saul was breathing out murderous threats against the church.
Because of Saul’s campaign of persecution, the Christians fled from Jerusalem to neighboring cities and countries, taking the gospel with them, but Saul’s bloodlust was not quenched. He decided to take his show on the road, getting permission to travel to Damascus to hunt down Jewish Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem for punishment, but something happened along the way.
On the road to Damascus, Saul was stopped by bright light and a voice from heaven saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul’s question is perfectly reasonable, “Um . . . who is this?” Saul is confronted by the very Jesus of Nazareth whose name he utterly despises. He is challenged by the risen Jesus whose follower’s he sought to persecute.
Now I want you to try and imagine the tingle of fear traveling down the back of Saul’s spine at this moment. So often when we think of Jesus, we picture Him as our buddy, our pal. We think of gentle Jesus, meek and mild. We see pictures of Him holding lambs and smiling with children. Yes, the Bible does give us that picture of Jesus; however, that is not the only picture of Jesus. Jesus is not coming to Saul as a buddy. He is coming to Saul as the Risen King and Lord of the Universe. Jesus appears in His glory, and Saul, it he was a smart man, would be afraid, very afraid.
Have you ever had a boss call you into his office because he wanted to talk with you about your future? I once served under a guy who did this all the time. He would call me up on his way into work and say, “We need to talk?” “Talk about what?” “We just need to talk, meet me in my office in thirty minutes.” Have you ever dealt with that? Of course, we only assume the worst, right? “Am I getting fired? Did I do something wrong? What’s going on?” Now take that feeling and multiply it by a few thousand. Jesus says to Saul, “Go on into the Damascus and wait. You and I are going to have a little talk.”