Saul goes to Caiaphas, the High Priest, to ask for letters, permission, to drag Christian men and women out of their homes in Damascus and into Jerusalem for judgment, and execution. Luke describes him as breathing out threats and murder. Jesus said it is what comes out of a man that defiles him, and Saul was breathing out hatred. His heart was not pure. Yet even in him there was hope. Jesus had a plan for Saul- this hateful murderous Saul, the persecutor of God’s people. Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? Why do you persecute my sheep? Jesus is the good shepherd. Saul is blinded by the light of Jesus because he was dwelling so deep in darkness. Ananias was scared of Saul, for good reason, but the Lord was with him. Saul was to be an instrument of God. He would suffer much for Jesus, and he would experience the very hate he had spearheaded against the church. Why did God choose Saul? From the epistles, we can tell Saul/Paul was intelligent, straight-forward, and had studied the scriptures. But the conversion of Saul also shows God’s grace, and mercy, and illuminates the change that Jesus can make in the life of anyone, at anytime. Saul was on a clear road to destruction, but Jesus, in his mercy, stopped him on that very road, and changed his path.
The disciples did not trust Saul, and of course he did not deserve their trust. He had their brothers and sisters in Christ killed. The Holy Spirit worked through Barnabas, who spoke on Saul’s behalf, who had witnessed Saul’s preaching. Barnabas showed an ultimate forgiveness. Saul began to preach, and quickly his life was sought. How angry the elders must have been at Saul, who was once their ally! It was only the beginning of a long journey.