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"But the Master said, 'Don't argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to Gentiles and kings and Jews. And now I'm about to show him what he's in for -- the hard suffering that goes with this job.'
"So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on the way here. He sent me so you can see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul's eyes -- he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized and sat down with them to a hearty meal." Acts 9:15-19 (The Message).
Jesus does not make mistakes. Sending Ananias to Saul was no guess-work. He had the inside story and His plan was right on track! Ananias took a little persuading and no wonder because he was aware that Saul was a dangerous man. Once he was convinced that Saul's conversion was genuine, he no longer hesitated to obey the Master.
The way he addressed Saul was touching. "Brother Saul!" Saul desperately needed acceptance in this crisis. What if he had become an outcast, rejected by the religious party he represented as a turncoat, and under suspicion by the group he needed so desperately to connect with? Ananias was the link and he did not fail the Master in his assignment. Perhaps this powerful moment prompted the apostle Paul to write:
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring glory to God." Romans 15:7 (NIV).
What a powerful experience! "Something like scales fell from Saul's eyes." This was much more that a miracle of physical healing. Paul knew what it was like to be spiritually blind. Was it Ananias' act of brotherly love that was the final piece in the puzzle for him? Whatever happened in that moment, his sight was restored both outwardly and inwardly.
Paul must have drawn from his own experience over and over again as he poured his heart out in his letters to his many converts and fellow believers all over the Roman Empire. We are blessed to have the written record of his interpretation of the life and message of Jesus, filtered through his own mind and experience.
Speaking of his people and his state before he met Jesus, he wrote: "But their minds were made dull for, to this day, the same veil (of unbelief - writer's comment) remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even today, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But when anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 (NIV).
Like the blind man of John 9, his unshakeable testimony was "'One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!'" John 9:15 (NIV). The inward blindness of his heart was gone. The insight he received of the glory of Jesus and the kingdom of God so lit up his soul that he became as fiery a witness for Jesus as he had been an antagonist.
Nothing could put that fire out -- not slander, persecution, suspicion, betrayal or even the threat of death could cool the passion of his heart for the Jesus who was alive, whom he had seen on the Damascus road and who had forgiven his misguided zeal and given him a new life.
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