This past week I sat down and watched the TV miniseries The Bible A.D. I must be honest, I have not watched many of these. The few episodes I have caught (including the ones based upon the OT and the Gospels) have left me with mixed feelings. There is often liberties that the authors have taken with the bible that has left me feeling rather frustrated. But, then, there are instances where the authors of this miniseries invites us to open our eyes and consider the possibility of something we havenít considered. Sunday night, there television program covered the conversion of Saul and it opened my eyes to the fact that Saul has one with emotions, preconceived ideas, prejudices, etc.
Often times when we read the scriptures we talk about the dangers of reading between the lines. We speak of the dangers (and rightfully so) of adding to the scriptures. However, the scriptures are not a biography. While they contain history they donít always give us insight into what a person thought. They rarely give us insight into how a person said what they said. That is, was it said hastily, forcefully, angrily, quietly, or even sarcastically. As such, we often just read the word on the surface. What does it literally mean?
The authors of this miniseries encouraged us to look beyond the scriptures for just a moment and consider who Saul was before and after that vision on the road to Damascus.
While I realize that they took some liberties it is an interesting insight that may not to too far from the truth. Paul himself spoke of his great zeal. In fact, it was not just zeal but a zeal to persecute the church (Gal. 1:13) He said he ravaged it (Gal. 1:13). The word ravage means to utterly destroy. It is used in Greek literature to talk about what an army does when it conquers a country. Let this thought sink in for just a moment. What kind of person ravages religious people? What kind of person gets papers from his High Priest to go to another city to hunt down and destroy a religious people? What kind of person stands bye while stones at hurled at a man who had the face of an angel? What type of person votes to put down religious people? According to the Bible A.D. miniseries Saul was seem as almost sadistic. I know, that seems wrong to say. But take what he did, remove him from the bible and what kind of person does this stuff? Hitler put to death people because of their religious persuasion. The Islamic State is putting people to death because of their religious persuasion. The Spanish Inquisition put people to death because of their religious persuasion. I say this so that you understand that Paul was much more than someone who thought Christianity was a false doctrine. He didnít just disagree with the teaching that Jesus was the Messiah. He was so staunchly against Christianity that he made it his personal mission to snuff out this fledgling faith before it spread throughout the world. Saul of Tarsus was not a ďnice guy.Ē He was not someone that a Christian would jump up and say, let me teach this guy. Bible A.D. showed me something I never contemplated before. The church was no longer openly proclaiming the gospel in the streets. While they were still teaching and preaching it was likely no longer a public proclamation, like in a synagogue. The Pharisees there would simply have you apprehended and immediately thrown into jail. The church likely was forced underground.
Now, imagine Saulís surprise when he sees a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. The very person that he had spent the last several years of his life trying to destroy is standing before him asking him, ďWhy are you kicking against the goads.Ē In other words, why are you fighting against me. Donít you know that I am the one pushing you to believe, pushing you to repent. Guiding your life? The next three days Saul was blind. He required help to do everything. He would require assistance to make it to Damascus where he would wait to be told what to do. He didnít know if he would ever see again. In fact, I imagine he never thought he would see again. (The Pharisees often denied the power of Jesus and I imagine the same held true of anything the apostles were doing). When Ananias comes in and proclaims the gospel to him, and ultimately heals him by giving him his sight again I can only imagine how elated Saul must have been. Not only was he physically blind but now could see, he now knows that he was spiritually blind and now seeing clearly for the 1st time.
Sunday nights episode closed with Saul going to the synagogue in Damascus. Telling Ananias what better place than here and what better time than now to proclaim the gospel. The Jews instrument to strike fear into the heart of Christians has now become Godís instrument to remove fear from the heart of Christians. The man Saul was is gone. He didnít slip back into his old habits, his old sins. He was truly converted to the Lord. This is what conversion is supposed to be.
Grinnell church of Christ
Website design by Blythe Data Recovery & Computer Repair, LLC
The Conversion of Saul
Volume 6 Issue 24