By Ellen Ceely
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house.” (Acts 9:10–17a)
The Collect for this week talks about opening the eyes of our faith. In this passage, Jesus opens the eyes of faith for Saul and Ananias.
I cannot imagine being Ananias. God told him to seek out someone who had been persecuting Christians. Think of the courage that must have taken! But more than courage, Ananias had faith—the firm belief that God knows what he is doing. Saul was a man of violence and death, but God showed Ananias that Saul would become a great instrument for Christ.
God struck Saul blind on the road—a physical affliction that showed his spiritual condition. Once he recognized Jesus as Lord, Saul’s blindness fell away. Instead of seeking out Christians to kill them, he sat with the disciples to gain a better understanding of the Gospel. God transformed Saul’s spiritual blindness into true faith. His eyes were opened in more ways than one.
In this passage, though, I easily overlook God’s final words to Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (9:16). When God transformed Saul’s heart and faith, he didn’t promise him comfort and luxury. For Saul—and for us—following Jesus will include suffering (2 Timothy 3:12). But Saul followed Jesus with his eyes wide open, ready to accept whatever God may ask him to do. Do you?
Take some time today to remember how God opened your eyes of faith. Praise God for saving you from spiritual blindness and ask him to open your eyes day by day as you seek him in his Word (Psalm 119:18). We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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