“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 9:15-17]
To me, this passage of scripture is mind blowing. Saul (his name was later changed to Paul) was an enemy of the Christian faith. He persecuted many followers of Jesus, and would even imprison and murder Christians. In my personal opinion, Saul comes across as an evil guy who might not even deserve respect.
Saul was traveling to a town called Damascus and Jesus appeared to him on the road in a bright light and spoke to him. Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting Him, and then instructed Saul to enter Damascus and wait for further instruction. Saul left his encounter with Jesus blind, but did as Jesus commanded and went into the city to wait. Another man, named Ananias, was also instructed by Jesus in a vision. Jesus told Ananias to find Saul and lay his hands upon him so that Saul would regain his sight.
First of all, if I were Ananias, I would be terrified. Jesus told Ananias to go help someone who was notorious for harming people of his own beliefs. Saul’s sole purpose in visiting the city of Damascus was to find Christians, like Ananias, in order to throw them in prison. This is where the story begins to blow my mind. Ananias actually goes to find Saul, prays for him, calls him “brother”, and then baptised him. In this moment, Saul goes from an enemy of Christ to someone who joins the Church family.
What does this mean?
God forgave Saul for all of the evil he had committed! If there was anyone who could be counted out of God’s grace and forgiveness, it would be Saul. Even after everything Saul did, Jesus met him, forgave him, and brought him into His family. He was not discounted from God’s grace, and neither are you. Neither you or you neighbor are discounted from God's grace. There is nothing you can possibly do that can separate you from the grace and love of God. Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even if you think you or someone you know has done something so evil that God couldn't possibly forgive you, know this: that God loves you enough to die for you and there is nothing, again NOTHING, that can separate you from the love and grace of Jesus.
Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for your grace. Please help me to understand your grace, and help me to forgive others just as you have forgiven me. I love you. Amen.