From Persecutor to Preacher
Day: 10 | Plan: Acts
Today's Reading: Acts 9
Acts 9:4-5 (NIV) “He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.”
Today we encounter one of the most profound heart transformations in all of Scripture. Whose heart? A man named Saul of Tarsus. A Jew by birth but a Roman citizen. Gentile by citizenship.
Early in Acts, Saul relentlessly persecuted those who had committed their lives to Jesus. Luke tells us he watched in approval as men stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:58; 8:1). Acts 8:3 describes Saul’s evil acts: “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”
So zealous was Saul to protect his Jewish heritage that he sought official permission (via a letter from the high priest) to pursue the Christians who had escaped to Damascus in order to bring them back to Jerusalem and imprison them. But God interrupted Saul’s journey. God had other plans for this persecutor of His church.
On his way to Damascus, Saul witnessed a bright light from heaven flash around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4) The men with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing nothing.
Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5)
The Voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:5) Jesus instructed Saul to get up and go into the city for further instruction. In that moment, Saul realized he could see nothing. He was blind.
I can only imagine what Saul must have felt. Jesus, the One whom Saul alleged was dead. The One whose followers Saul had been persecuting manifested Himself before Saul’s very eyes.
Saul had a glorious and personal encounter with the living Christ that day! But Saul’s story doesn’t end there. God sent a man named Ananias to complete the commission on Saul’s life:
“Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength” (Acts 9:17b-19a).
And from that moment on, the persecutor became a preacher. But not just any preacher, one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived. God transformed Saul’s heart from a venomous tool of hatred and intolerance into a beautiful vessel of love, mercy and grace.
What hope we find in Saul’s story! If God can turn His fiercest opponent into His most willing servant, He has the power and ability to save anyone. Saul was not seeking Jesus. He was not seeking life transformation. He seemed not only content, but also driven to persecute the church. It was God’s sovereign grace that arrested his heart and transformed him for all eternity.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the hope found in Saul’s story. Thank You that no matter what I’ve said or done in the past and no matter what has been said or done to me, I’m never beyond Your love and grace! No matter the darkness I may find myself in right now, Your light is even brighter! Draw me back to You, Father. Help me to trust in You and You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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Read Acts 9:10-18.
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