Must Go To Damascus....
The name is Saul, I come from Tarsus but have been educated for many years as a Pharisee in Jerusalem lately under the tuition of Gamaliel. I’ve been assisting the other Jewish leaders in trying to stamp out this new sect known as “The Way”, they have been very active in Jerusalem since around the feast of Pentecost. This was about six weeks after their leader, a Galilean called Jesus, was killed by the Romans. I’d already approved the stoning of one of their most outspoken leaders, Stephen. I was very concerned and so I went to high priest to get letters to take to Damascus so that if I found any of them I could send them back to Jerusalem for trial.
I have been travelling to Damascus, its about 130 miles all told and today was the final day of the journey, I expect to reach Damascus by nightfall. Damascus is the leading city in Syria and is a common trade route even under Roman occupation. It has a local king as its governor presently goes by the name of Aretas. There is a large number of fellow Jews there and I’ve been looking forward to catching up with some old friends whilst I’m here.
We passed a large trade caravan and settled into the final ride towards the city, I could see it stretched out in the distance.
Suddenly there was a bright light in the sky and a light flashed around me I’m fell to the ground. Very afraid I started to back away but then I heard a voice calling out my name, “Saul, Saul!”
I dared not answer.
“Why do you persecute me?”
Realising this must be a voice from heaven I nervously asked.
“Who… are you, Lord?”
The reply astonished me,
“I am Jesus, who you are persecuting, get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
With the brightness of the lights I had closed my eyes, my companions, who had heard some sound but not seen the anything, helped me up, but when I opened my eyes I was completely blind. They led me into Damascus to the house of Judas, an old friend of mine, who has taken me in for the night. All I can do now is wait and pray, Judas has agreed to write up the blog for now as I am still completely blind.
I did not get a lot of sleep last night, the events of the day still going round in my head. I don’t want to eat or drink all I can do is pray. Judas has been very good, he has his servants doing all they can, but I’m not much good company at the moment. I keep thinking of all I’ve done against this man and his follows and what might become of me now. What am I going to tell the others back in Jerusalem, I’ve followed the law all my life and now I have no direction. All I can do is wait as he told me to.
Where will help come from?
I confess I did not submit an entry yesterday, it’s the third day now and I still can’t see anything but I have had a vision in my mind, very clear, a man, from Damascus I think, he came over to me and touched my eyes to restore my sight. He is called Ananias, but where to find him in such a large city? Judas has sent his servants to ask around, he is very good to me.
Yes, now I see!
What a difference today has made! At last I can write this by my own hand! Ananias came to see me today, he found me! He said he had been told where I was in a vision he had while I was praying. Ananias is a brave man, he knew who I was and my reputation but came anyway. He also knew about my vision on the road here. He put his hands on my eyes and spoke to me. Immediately I could see after something falling away from my eyes, and I asked to be baptised. I was filled with the Holy Spirit at that very moment and praised the Lord. We shared dinner together as he talked to me and explained about Jesus. I don’t know where my future will take me now but I feel such an amazing sense of peace I’ve never experienced this before. Jesus is the Messiah we were waiting for, how could I have not realised before? Only now do I realise just how blind I was….