By Ashlee Price
There once was a man named Saul. He was a Jewish leader from the city of Tarsus. Saul lived in the years just after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. The disciples were telling everyone they met about how Jesus had been raised back to life. But Saul, as well as the other Jewish priests and rulers, did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They didn’t want anyone to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.
So, Saul went into the city of Jerusalem and searched for the disciples. When he found them, he would bring them before the priests and rulers, and put them in jail. Saul did not want them telling everybody about Jesus. And sometimes, Saul would even order the disciples to be killed!
“Someone must go and destroy the followers of Jesus in Damascus,” one of the Jewish leaders said one day.
“I will go,” Saul said boldly. “I will go and destroy them all.”
Saul and a group of men got onto their horses and began the long journey to Damascus. Once they had found Jesus’ followers, Saul would take them to Jerusalem and punish them there.
Saul and his men rode for a long time. The road to Damascus was through the desert, and they soon got tired of seeing the dry wasteland, where there was nothing green in sight. But as they got closer to the town, they began to pass beautiful grassy fields with lots of bright flowers. Cool blue streams flowed from the mountains in the distance.
“Look!” one of Saul’s men said. “This is much better than the desert.”
All of a sudden, a very bright light shone down from heaven. It was so bright that Saul could no longer see where he was going! Saul fell off his horse and hit the ground with a thud. He was very sore from the fall, and he was very afraid.
Then Saul heard a voice speaking to him.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are You, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Saul realised that he was now speaking to Jesus Himself! He had once believed that Jesus was not the Messiah. But now Saul had met Jesus face to face! Saul was very afraid. He had put Jesus’ followers in prison and allowed some of them to be killed! What would Jesus do to him?
“What will You have me to do?” Saul whispered, his heart full of fear.
“Arise,” Jesus said, “and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do.”
The bright light disappeared and Saul tried to get up off the ground. But something was not right. His eyes were open but he couldn’t see anything at all. Saul was blind!
“Help me!” he cried to his friends. “I cannot see!” The men who were with Saul had seen the bright light, but they did not hear the voice that Saul heard. They were very confused. They helped Saul get up, and they took his hand and led him into the city. Saul was very afraid. He could not see where he was going. He heard the sound of people talking and horses trotting as his friends pulled him along the streets of the city.
They led him to a house and there he stayed for three days. Three days felt like three years for Saul. He was all by himself, and he did not eat or drink anything the entire time. The only thing Saul could do was think about all that had happened. He was so very sad for all that he had done to hurt Jesus’ followers. He was also very sorry that he had not believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
Saul could not see anything, but he knelt down on the ground and prayed, “Dear God, I’m sorry that I did not believe in Jesus. Please forgive me for hurting all the people You loved. Please forgive me, I’m so sorry …” Saul did not know if God would forgive someone as bad as him, but he would ask anyway.
While Saul was praying, God spoke to a man named Ananias. Ananias was a follower of Jesus. God told Ananias to go and see Saul and pray with him. But Ananias was afraid that Saul would try to kill him. God told Ananias that He had a plan for Saul, so Ananias got up and went on his way.
Saul had been very lonely, so he was happy when he heard Ananias walk in the door. Ananias put his hands on Saul’s head, and said, “Saul, the same Jesus whom you met on the road, has sent me to you. God is going to give you your sight back and you will be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
Just then, Saul felt something like scales fall off his eyes. His eyes were open … and he could see! He was not blind any more. Saul looked up into the face of Ananias and gave him a big hug. They both rejoiced and praised the Lord.
“Thank you, Ananias,” Saul said. “May God bless you.” Then Saul explained how the bright light shone down from heaven on the road to Damascus, and how Jesus had spoken to him. “Now I know that Jesus is truly the Son of God. I did not believe it before, but I do now. I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour.” Saul smiled.
Ananias was very happy to hear Saul’s story of how God had changed his heart. Ananias gave Saul some food to eat, and that very day, Ananias baptised Saul in a river nearby. Then straight away, Saul began to go into the cities. He told everybody he met about how Jesus had changed his life. The people even started to call him “Paul” instead of “Saul”! Saul had left his pride behind and became Paul, which means ‘humble’. Once he had hated Jesus, and now he loved Jesus. We must always remember that if God could change Saul’s heart, He can change anybody’s heart!
PICTURE CREDIT – Free Bible Images Sweet Publishing