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God’s Word for You

Acts 9:8-9 Saul enters Damascus

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, January 27, 2020

8 Then Saul was helped up from the ground, and when he opened his eyes he saw nothing. They led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  9 For three days he could see nothing, and he did not eat or drink anything.

Once when Jesus was asked about the Pharisees, the Lord said, “Leave them—they are blind guides” (Matthew 15:14; cp. Matthew 23:16). Now Saul the Pharisee and apostle of the Sanhedrin was truly, physically blind. The passive voice of the first clause tells us that he was helped to his feet by the guards who were with him. Unable to see at all, he was taken by the hand to be led into Damascus. Scarcely a few minutes had elapsed since he had been storming along, huffing puffing and breathing out threats and murder for the Christians, and now he wouldn’t have been able to find so much as the city gate without someone to guide him. He was utterly helpless.

They took him to a place, perhaps somewhere that had been pre-arranged, and he stayed there for three days. He fasted, eating nothing and drinking nothing at all. Most cultures that fast regularly allow water to be drunk after sunset, but Luke is careful to say that Saul did not eat or drink anything.

Saul was crushed. His world was ruined. He had thought that his great education in the teachings of the Pharisees and his zeal for the Sanhedrin were the righteous path. But God had asked: “Why do you persecute me?” He needed no other instruction to teach him that he had been wrong.  Saul didn’t blame Gamaliel or his other teachers. He knew the Holy Scriptures himself. How could he have been so wrong that he had actually turned on God, persecuting the Son of God and his followers? For three days Saul wrestled with this question, and he was driven deeper and deeper into despair. There was no way that his own personal deeds could answer for his idolatry—and direct opposition to God is nothing less than idolatry. He was guilty of violating the first commandment. By the very laws he had been so enthusiastic to enforce, he himself was answerable. He himself deserved being stoned to death. Did the words of David pierce his heart? “Troubles without number surround me. My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. My sins number more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me” (Psalm 40:12).

Saul’s whole religious perspective up to this point was based on making himself righteous before God with his own deeds. How helpless he was! There is no righteousness apart from Christ. What we have and treasure so dearly is what Saul needed but did not know. But one of the reasons that we treasure it as we do is that after this man, Saul, heard the gospel, he shared it at every opportunity. By crushing Saul and grinding him into anguish and despair, our Lord taught him the true value of the Law and of the Gospel. Treasure the gospel that you love so genuinely. Don’t ever take it for granted. Wear it around your neck like the most precious item you possess, and then show it, share it, give it away, to everyone you know.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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