Summary: Every story has a beginning, middle, and ending. Pauls did. What about you?
I want to tell you a story. This story is about a very well know man in the Bible. A very religious man. A man who was regarded very high amongst his peers, but brought great fear to those he opposed. I am speaking of a man named Saul.
Like every one of us, Saul, or later as he became or know, Paul, had a story. Now the first time we come to know this man is at the death of the first martyr for the Gospel, Stephen. In Act 7:58-8:1, we are introduced to Saul.
I mentioned earlier that Saul was well regarded, it is evident by the way that those who were stoning Stephen sought the approval of Saul by placing their clothes in front of him, ad later in Chapter 8:1 when Saul gave his approval of the execution. Saul was a bad dude, and as you see in Acts 9:1-2 he was given full authority to carry out his beliefs. What were his beliefs? Just like the ‘religious’ Jews he associated with, they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and anyone who spoke of it, should be snubbed out. If death was needed, then that was what Saul would do. He had a passion for his duties, and anyone who was a part of “The Way” was in his way, and had to be silenced.
In Acts 9:2, he received his next deployment in the form of letters from the high priest. These letters were his marching orders, the authority to carry out his genocide plans.
You see every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But although Paul was a bad dude from the first time we are introduced to him, Paul’s story was truly about to begin.
Authority in the form of letters in his hand, he heads to Damascus. As he is making his way down the road, in his mind he may have been thinking about how he was going to deal with those followers of “the Way.” Would he beat them with his own hands, stone them, imprison them, and maybe make the suffer before killing them? But something happens. God is ready to set the beginning to Saul’s story.
This is still not the beginning, but get ready, it’s coming. In verse 10 we are introduced to a disciple named Ananias, who the Lord appeared and gave him some specific instructions to bring to Paul.
Did you see Ananias’s first reaction? Maybe he thought that the end of his story was coming. But the Lord set him straight.
Ananias did as the Lord commanded, and this bring us to the beginning of Paul’s story.
The Bible goes on to tell us in Acts 9 that immediately he became to proclaim Jesus saying in verse 22 “He is the Son of God.” The very man that was so passionate with his belief that Jesus was not the Messiah, now is proclaiming publicly that he is. And now the same treatment that he was giving before he met Jesus, was being turned on him by the Jewish Religious leaders.
At this point I think it’s important to see that the man that had brought so much fear to people, was now running and escaping by being lowered over the wall by a basket. There was a change in Saul. You and I both know that he could have fought his way out of it and escaped, but that wasn’t God’s plan. This was the beginning of Saul’s understanding of humility, and not acting on his own accord, but being led by the spirit, even in the direst circumstances (Acts 9:16).
If we were to continue in Acts 9, and pick up in reading in verse 26, we would miss something important. Between verse 25 & verse 26 there is a span of 14 years. All of the verses we have read have been a narrative from Luke about the Paul’s story and his beginning, but let’s move to Galatians 2 and see the words of Paul himself.
Galatians 2:1 (fourteen years later)
We have come to the middle of the man who now is named Paul. These last fourteen years, and as we move forward here in Galatians is what we can see as the middle of Paul’s story. Throughout the New Testament we see the middle which includes raising up leaders like Timothy and Titus, starting churches in towns like Colossi, Thessalonica, Galatia, and more. Paul even account for writing 13 books of the New Testament. The middle of Paul’s story is one that we read about over 2000 years later, and one that we look to as the very word given by the authority of the Lord himself. Paul and the middle of his story is such an important aspect of our faith, our hope, and our very existence as Children of the living God.