Just because we think we are doing what is right, it doesn’t mean Jesus wants us to do what we are doing.
There are so many ways to do what we think is right. The homeless guy who has the cardboard sign asking for food needs food. One right way of helping him is dropping a dollar or two in his box. Another right way of helping him is taking him to a restaurant, eating a meal with him, and paying for his dinner. Another right way of helping the hungry homeless man is to bring him home for dinner and making sure he has a warm place to stay for the night.
Saul thought what he was doing to the followers of the Way was right. The followers of the Way were opposing the Jewish religious leaders. The followers of the Way were talking about Jesus Christ, healing people, and casting out demons. The news about Jesus Christ was supposed to stop. It was at the Temple that God was worshipped and it through the Pharisees and Sadducees that God spoke. Anyone who opposed the Temple and the religious leaders were to be punished. That is what Saul was doing.
However, Saul soon learned when the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. In the process Saul learns the right we think we are doing is not what Jesus wants us to do.
A. Saul meets Jesus (9:1-9)
1. Saul threatens the disciples of the Way
2. He even has permission to go to Damascus, Syria to imprison the disciples
3. A light from heaven!
a. Voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
b. Saul ask who is speaking to him
c. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” – harming the Way/the Church harms Jesus!
d. “Go to the city & you will be told what to do”
e. Saul was blinded, temporarily
4. When the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. Saul believed he was doing right. In a manner of speaking, he was doing right. The Jewish religious establishment wanted the Way to end. Saul was trying to end the Way. But Jesus wanted Saul to do something else. Jesus sends Ananias to tell Saul what he was going to do.
B. Ananias goes to Saul (9:10-19a)
1. This disciple had to go to the man who was persecuting the disciples??
2. Saul sees Ananias coming to him in a vision while praying!
3. Jesus gives Ananias the reason he has to go to Saul
a. Saul will bring Jesus’ name before Gentiles, kings, and the people of Israel
b. Saul will suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name – the opposite of what he is doing now
4. When the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. No longer would Saul be harming Jesus. Saul is going to be working to add people to the Body of Christ! But first Ananias has to speak with Saul the persecutor of the Way! Will Saul respond positively to what Ananias tells him? Saul even goes as far as being baptized! What Saul does next is the complete opposite of what he had been doing.
C. Saul preaches Jesus (9:19b-25)
1. Jesus is the Son of God!
2. The one who persecuted is now preaching
3. Saul proved Jesus is the Messiah
4. When the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. I have heard some stories over the years of people who have persecuted Christians. These persecutors see the faith of the people they are persecuting and somehow they themselves meet Jesus! There have been some stories coming out of North Africa and Syria of a few Muslims meeting Jesus after they have beheaded some Christians. These Muslim men start talking about Jesus! Yes, we might do things that seem right to us, but after we meet Jesus all of that changes. As typically happens when our life changes, the people we used to hang around get a bit upset about the change in our life. Even the new crowd we are spending time with become uneasy. It took another disciple standing up for Saul for him to be accepted by the followers of the Way.
D. Barnabas stands up for Saul (9:26-31)
1. The Damascus Jews try to kill Saul
2. Saul tries to meet up with the Jerusalem disciples
3. The apostles were afraid of Saul
4. Barnabas told them how Saul saw the Lord and how Saul talked about Jesus
5. The church is increasing in number in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria!
6. When the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. Saul showed this in his life, even right after meeting Jesus. Even though the Jews wanted him dead and the disciples were afraid of him, Saul kept on preaching about the Messiah, the risen Son of God, Jesus! Have you come to believe in Jesus as a youth? Have you come to believe in Jesus as an adult? In either case, as soon as you start believing in Jesus, you can start speaking about Jesus. Speak to the people around you about Jesus. Tell about how Jesus is the one sent from God. Tell about how Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to die apart from God.
Just because we think we are doing what is right, it doesn’t mean Jesus wants us to do what we are doing. We go about our lives doing what we want to do. We may even be like Saul, talking all negative about Christians and the church. But that is not what Jesus wants us to do. I hope we have more and more people meet Jesus like Saul did. For then we would have more people who powerfully speak about Jesus. What happens when Jesus speaks to us?
When the Lord speaks to us, Jesus wants us to work. When we become followers of Jesus, who is the Way, we speak about Jesus. We talk about Jesus to those who want to hear about Jesus. We talk about Jesus to those who don’t want to hear about Jesus. Isn’t today a good day to start following Jesus? Isn’t today a good day to start speaking about Jesus? Saul had other plans as he was traveling to Damascus. Jesus changed those plans. You might have other plans as you travel along. Jesus can also change your plans.