And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized. – Acts 9:18
The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the most dramatic stories of the New Testament. Luke tells us that this zealous young man couldn’t tolerate the followers of the Messiah. He consented to the murder of Stephen. When he met the glorified Messiah on the Damascus Road, he was ordered to go to a Christian disciple in Damascus, the very one he had planned to harm! Luke has supplied us with vivid details of the encounter. I would like to draw attention to a phenomenon that played a major role in the rapid growth of the Christian Church: the existence of Christian communities with no information about how the Gospel got to them.
This applies to Damascus. Paul went to Ananias’ home; his sight was restored and he was baptized. This implies the prior existence of the Church. It must have been that some of the 3,000 who were converted in Jerusalem on Pentecost, belonged to the Jewish community in Damascus. Their conversion experience enabled them to go back to their homes and tell the marvelous account of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life and person of Jesus Christ. Their testimony was spontaneous and joyful; it led to the conversion of Ananias and several others. In our reflections on similar accounts in Acts, the existence of Christian communities like the one in Damascus will be noted. Behind all of them, we must consider two major facts: the Jewish Dispersion and the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek.
Suggestions for prayer
Let us pray that all members of the Church may reclaim the spontaneity that marked the witness of the Early Church.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Bassam Michael Madany has served as a missionary in Syria, and in 1958 he began a 36-year radio and literature ministry to the Arab world. After retirement Bassam & his wife Shirley began an Internet ministry, Middle East Resources, to provide a “Christian Response to the Global Challenge of Islam.”