23 After many days, the Jews had a meeting. They planned to kill Saul. 24 But he learned about their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates closely in order to kill him. 25 But his followers helped him escape by night. They lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the believers. But they were all afraid of him. They didn’t believe he was really one of Jesus’ followers. 27 But Barnabas took him to the apostles. He told them about Saul’s journey. He said that Saul had seen the Lord. He told how the Lord had spoken to Saul. Barnabas also said that Saul had preached without fear in Jesus’ name in Damascus. 28 So Saul stayed with the believers. He moved about freely in Jerusalem. He spoke boldly in the Lord’s name. 29 He talked and argued with the Greek Jews. But they tried to kill him. 30 The other believers heard about this. They took Saul down to Caesarea. From there they sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. The church was strengthened and grew larger. That’s because they worshiped the Lord and the Holy Spirit helped them.
Saul (later to be renamed Paul) starts his journey with Christ full of the Holy Spirit’s power. Ps Richard spoke about knowing what you are anointed for in the Holy Spirit. Saul was confronted and transformed by his encounter with God and here we see him moving into his anointing, his ministry of sharing the news of salvation in Jesus Christ. He speaks to the Jews, who recognise him as one of their own. But now his message is a surprise, and they turn on him. Saul wasn’t to be stopped in his anointing from the Lord – onto Jerusalem where he didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome!
What struck me is the power and boldness of Saul. Barnabas told the disciples how he had fearlessly preached of Jesus being the Saviour (v27). His heart was transformed when he met Jesus! All the old zeal against Jesus was now totally for Him. Any memory of his sins had been “washed away by the blood of Christ. …his perfect righteousness has been imputed to our account.” (Ps P Pringle -“Peace”)
When I dwell on my sins or past wrongs, I rob myself of the power and fearlessness Saul enjoyed. I can’t add anything to the salvation Christ has won for me. He is everything I need and my peace is found in Him.
Jesus, everything wrong in my past has been washed away by your death for me. Just like Saul, please transform my heart by your grace. Make me powerful and effective for your glory. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore