December 29, 2020 – Tuesday
Acts 9:26-30 NIV
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews*, but they tried to kill him.
30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
*Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture.
We need to look at some prior to understand the fear the apostles had of Saul and how other things had not changed for him. Earlier in this chapter we learn, 19b Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah. Saul was indeed the man who the the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name [Jesus] and further hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests? Yet his encounter with Jesus had truly changed him and he grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Still, there was an aspect of his life in Damascus that was unchanged over time. Because of the effectiveness of his preaching, 23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. In opposition to them, believer took action and the next verse tells us, 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
Then he went to Jerusalem where we have our verses for the today. Once again Saul became so effective in his teaching, preaching and, debating with the Hellenistic Jews, they tried to kill him. And once again it was his followers, fellow believers, who saved him, for 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
It is interesting how God used believers to protect Saul in both Damascus and Jerusalem. When fellow believers in Jerusalem sent him off to Tarsus, according to David Guzik, he would spend approximately 10 years there before he was sent out as a missionary from the church at Antioch. And it would be Barnabas who reached out to Saul, remembering him and loving him. Additionally, Guzik wrote initially, He was Saul of Tarsus, the young, successful, energetic rabbi. Then he was Saul the Persecutor; then Saul the Blind. He became Saul the Convert and then Saul the Preacher. Yet before he became Paul the Apostle, he spent somewhere between 8 and 12 years as Saul the unknown. Those were not wasted years; they were good and necessary years.
It is really useful to consider the trials and training Saul went through before he became Paul and how the same could be true for any one of us. As Guzik wrote about such years for Saul, they were good and necessary years. The same may very well be true for us as well. Saul, like us, was likely very frustrated and impatient for his preaching to continue. Still he waited until he was called by God to go out to the world. The lesson for us is to continue to seek God and His will in our lives. Then leave any changes He has in mind for us, including His timing, completely and totally up to Him. Paul did so. Considering his background, he never went halfway, instead he was fully committed and had to be incredibly impatient, yet he waited on God. We should do the same and not act on our own.
Prayer: Lord guide us and give us the ability to wait upon You and Your timing for how we are to take action in Your will. Thank you for your guidance through the example of Saul/Paul. – In Jesus name. Amen.