The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts chapter 9 we rejoin Saul, who was introduced to us at the stoning of Stephen. Saul is still very hostile to Christians. This reminds us that the early opposition to Christ was not from the Romans but from the Jews. Saul secures permission from the priests that he may arrest men and women in Damascus if they are believing in Jesus.
This move should bring to our attention the fact that Christianity was spreading actively. Not only were we seeing Christian communities in Jerusalem and Samaria, but now in Damascus, Syria. The Gospel was spreading rapidly. This provoked retaliation from the Jewish leaders. In turn, the Gospel continued to spread.
On the way to Damascus, Saul encountered Jesus, in a vision. This was a powerful vision. Jesus knocked him down. I readily admit to picturing Saul riding a horse. A dear brother in Spain once confronted me on this and pointed out that no animal is mentioned. If Saul was riding anything, it would likely have been a donkey. Horses were normally draft animals or used in battle. But in fact we don’t know that Saul was riding anything.
Jesus condemns Saul’s persecution of his people and therefore of him. The vision leaves Saul blind. Saul, moved to repentance, asks what he is to do. Jesus tells him to go on to Damascus and await instructions. This he does, blind, led by someone else. For three days in Damascus he fasts and prays, awaiting his instructions.
Sometimes meeting Jesus is a traumatic experience. This is especially the case for those who have been hostile to the Gospel. Though it is difficult, the meeting is a great blessing. We are well advised to pray for those who would persecute us, that they would hear and believe.
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