December 6-7, 2008
A FORGOTTEN HERO
by Charles R. Swindoll
The transformation is stunning. Saul, no doubt with blood stains still on his garment from Christians he had tortured, now stood with arms outstretched announcing, "I'm here to testify to you that Jesus is the Messiah, God's Son." And the people who heard it were amazed. The Greek text uses the term from which we get the word ecstatic. They responded with nothing short of ecstatic astonishment at the swift reversal of Saul's life.
Imagine sitting in the synagogue. In front of you, preaching Jesus as the Messiah, is the very man responsible for condemning innocent Christians to death. Others he had taken into prisons, perhaps some of them relatives and friends. The room was full of jaw-dropped stares. The next statement assures us he didn't slow down: "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:22).
It gets better. Not only did Saul preach about Christ, he preached with remarkable skill. The word translated proving comes from a Greek verb, which means, "to knit together from several different strands." Saul's sermons were skillfully woven together, seamlessly delivered with compelling logic---all signs of a gifted expositor.
Word by word, sentence by sentence, point by point, Saul walked his listeners through the powerful passages of the Old Testament Scriptures, including the writings of the prophets, presenting an airtight case for believing in Christ as their promised Messiah. Until Saul made his case, most had never made that connection. What a convincing communicator!
Before we go on, let's pause and remind ourselves, none of these remarkable events could have been witnessed, or even recorded for that matter, had it not been for Ananias's courageous faith. You may have never thought of that until now. Saul would have remained blind and trembling had the disciple of Damascus refused to obey and go to Straight Street. All this was set in motion because God used the memorable faith of a little-known but faithful hero. His trembling but faithful obedience changed the destiny of millions, including you and me.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.