By Les Henson
Acts 9: 20-31 (NRSV)
20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus[a] was the Messiah.
23 After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
26 When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
God never promises us an easy road when we come to faith. Certainly, that was true for Paul after he encountered the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. Paul seems to be continually jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Soon after coming to faith Paul, the persecutor begins to preach that Jesus is “the Son of God” (verse 20) and proves “that Jesus was the Messiah” (v 22) much to the amazement of his hearers. However, the Jews of Damascus were displeased, and after a while, they plotted to kill him. Thus, the persecutor becomes the persecuted. However, Paul makes a daring escape by being lowered down in a basket from an open window in the city wall.
Even so, life doesn’t get any easier for Paul in Jerusalem. The disciples don’t trust the former persecutor, fearing he might be a double agent. However, Barnabas comes to the rescue bringing Paul to the apostles. He “described for them how on the road (Paul) had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus” (v 27). Paul is accepted and once again speaks “boldly in the name of Lord” and argues with the Hellenists. However, once again his life is threatened and he is sent home to Tarsus by way of Caesarea by the believers in Jerusalem. The consequence is that “the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers”.
God never promises us an easy road, but he does supply help along the way. The road may be rough, but our confidence is in God whom we follow. PRAYER:
Alone with none but Thee, My God. I journey on my way. What need I fear, when Thou art near, O King of night and day? More safe I am within Thy hand Than if a host did round me stand.