ACTS 9:1-6: “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” NASB
OBSERVATION: Have you ever asked yourself this question – “Will they ever change?” Is there someone in your life, a son or a daughter, a family member or a friend, who you have been praying for seemingly to no avail? Sometimes the call of intercession is a lonely call and we feel like giving up. When this happens it is good to remember the Biblical truth…
GOD CAN CHANGE ANYONE!
The story of the Damascus Road is a reminder of this truth. Saul was a Pharisee that was both zealous and militant. He was commissioned by the High Priest to seek out followers of The Way and to bring them bound to be judged in Jerusalem. We don’t know how many people Saul had imprisoned or how many had been stoned due to his activities. However, the Biblical account records that Saul was instrumental in the stoning of Stephen.
- “When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Acts 7:58-59
Saul was the catalyst for the dispersion of believers from Jerusalem. Yet, Saul was not content with simply hunting those of The Way in Jerusalem. Saul actively sought authority to seek out these believers in Damascus. Damascus is about 135 miles from Jerusalem. This shows how militant Saul was in his pursuit to eradicate this new movement.
To the casual observer, Saul seemed like a hopeless case. I don’t know if the new church was actively praying for his salvation. They probably were praying for their protection from his violent acts. However, although the Bible does not tell us who it was, I believe, without a doubt, that some faithful saint was calling on Jesus to save this man of destruction.
It only takes one intercessor to change the course of history!
And, changing the course of history is what happened. This man, the one who was so greatly feared, the one who appeared to be far beyond the pale of hope and change, the one who most had given up on, was intersected by someone’s faithful prayers and the grace of God on his way to harm others. The Damascus road is the continuing declaration that no one is beyond the reach of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
- “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
There is a phrase that is missing from the NASB translation of this text that is found in the NKJV version. It is found in verse 6.
- “So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:6 NKJV
I love this verse. It shows the power of God’s grace to change anyone. The same insolent man who breathed constant threats against those of The Way now meets THE WAY on his way to continue his acts of violence. When he meets Jesus he finally comes to the end of himself. There is nothing that he can say in his defense. He stands there naked before God and can only say,
“Lord, what do You want me to do?”
God’s grace is able to reach to the uttermost. There is no one that is beyond the reach of His great grace. Does this mean that if we only pray the entire world will be saved? Obviously not. However, let’s reverse this question. How many will not be saved if there is no one who is willing to stay on their knees in fervent prayer for the salvation of the one who is lost?
Earlier I said we do not know who the person was who interceded for Saul. Yet, could it have been Ananias? Think about it. Why did God choose Ananias to receive Saul, pray for him to receive his sight, to be filled with the Spirit, and baptized? Could it be that Ananias was the very person who had been interceding for the salvation of Saul? We may never know until we enter heaven – but it is an intriguing thought to ponder!
Through the prayers of an intercessor, through the power of God’s grace, and through the restoring work of both Ananias and Barnabas, this Christian killer Saul became the great Apostle Paul who spread the Gospel to most of the known world of his day and wrote almost half of the New Testament.
This is the power of God’s grace!
So who are you about ready to give up on? Who is it that you have begun to slack off on your prayers out of discouragement that they have not changed? Who is it that the enemy has tried to convince you that they will never change?
Remember the Road to Damascus!
If God can change Saul and turn him into the Apostle Paul – He can change anyone!
Lord, forgive me for the times my faith has waned and my prayer life has weakened. Grant me grace, strength, and faith to stand in the gap for those You have called me to be an intercessor. Help me to continue praying until they too have a Damascus road encounter with Jesus! May they meet the one who can truly change their lives and heart and transform their lives into a life of God-ordained purpose and fulfillment.
- “Now for several days he was with the disciples who were in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not the one who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 9:19-22 NASB
In Jesus’ Name!