A Light From the Sky

“A Light From the Sky”
A reflection on Acts 9:1-9
The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang

Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

Acts 9:1-9

A Fiery Pharisee

After consenting to Stephen’s death, Saul ravaged the church, “entering house after house,” dragging out men and women to imprison them (Acts 8:1-3). A Pharisee among Pharisees, Saul crusaded to protect Judaism against the heterodox followers of “the Way.” For the novel sect threatened to undermine the Jerusalem temple and the law. With missionary zeal, the protégé of the illustrious Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) received a commission from the Sanhedrin to hunt down their enemies in Damascus.

Set Afire For Christ

The Lord snatched Saul’s fire for heaven as he approached his destination. Blinding him in his tracks, Jesus questioned his executioner: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Bewildered on the ground, Saul heard the voice say, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” 

Led by the hand to Damascus, Saul spent three days in darkness, praying and fasting. Remembering Stephen and all the men and women he imprisoned, Saul heard the voice reverberate, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” How could he have been so blind?

“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

Acts 9:15

Thus spoke the Lord to Ananias, charging him with Saul’s baptism. Scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he received the Holy Spirit. Transformed in Christ, the convert redirected his missionary zeal toward his fellow Jews, proclaiming in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).

For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10a (RSV)

A light from the sky flashed around Saul,
Blinding his eyes as he heard Christ’s call.

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