A MAN FROM TARSUS
"There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: 'Ananias.' "'Yes, Master?' he answered. "'Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He's there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter his house and lay hands on him so he could see again.'" Acts 9:10-12 (The Message).
Strange, isn't it, that Jesus didn't speak directly to Saul and heal him without going through another human being! He could have, but He didn't. Why? Could it be that He takes His partnership with human beings seriously?
When God assigned the management of the earth to people, He really meant it. He also meant us to live together as a unit, interacting with each other in the oneness that reflects His oneness in the Trinity. Since Jesus not only reconciled us to God but also to one another in Himself, it is always His way to foster unity between fellow believers by ministering His grace to one another through us by the Spirit.
Saul was isolated and disorientated by his shocking encounter with Jesus. He never dreamed that his mission to destroy the church in Damascus would turn out this way. On top of it, he was blind! Was this his punishment for what he had been doing? Then he dreamt that a man named Ananias came and prayed for him and his sight was restored. Was that wishful thinking? He did not know what to make of any of these things.
Jesus enlisted the help of a seasoned believer. Ananias was obviously comfortable with personal communication with Jesus. He was not thrown by this vision. His response was spontaneous. He knew who was talking to him.
"Ananias protested.’Master, you can't be serious. Everyone's talking about this man and the terrible things he's been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he's shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that gave him licence to do the same to us.'" Acts 9:13-14 (The Message).
Ananias' reaction was quite understandable if the news of Saul's conversion had not yet reached him. Even if it had, he might have been suspicious. Was it a ploy to get in among the believers and then carry out his wicked plan to decimate them? Only a divine revelation would convince him that the change in Saul was real.
Saul needed the reassurance that the church would forgive and accept him. Because of the hostility that surrounded them, the believers stuck together and supported one another. How could Saul ever break through into the fellowship of a group of people he had come to destroy? Jesus' solution? Ananias!
So He recruited Ananias to be Saul's passport into the family circle in Damascus. From there he would find entrance into the wider church family when he could prove that he was no longer a persecutor but one of them.
Ananias needed convincing before he took on this assignment. Only reassurance from Jesus would set him on course to visit this man and welcome him into the fellowship of the church. He was not afraid to question His instructions and Jesus was not offended by his protest.
This story is a beautiful example of the vibrancy of a believer's relationship to Jesus. This is no religious rigmarole but intimate fellowship with Jesus and the joy of doing life with Him. This is what He wants and this is how it should be.
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