“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
“’Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“’I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me … (They) led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
“A man named Ananias came to see me … He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.’” (Acts 22:6-9, 11-14)
The blaze of light on that Damascus Road was seen by everyone. But for Saul, it so burned into his vision that he was blinded – light destroyed sight.
In the beginning, when God said “Let there be light,” it was good, dispelling darkness and laying the foundation for life. But here, in this instance just outside Damascus, light functions as judgement on Saul, taking away what sight he thought he had. He falls to the ground, unable to stand. Later, stumbling, he’s led by the hand into Damascus, disoriented by the blindness. But it’s not just the blindness that disorients. It’s also the reverberating shock of what he has just seen and heard.
What he’d heard is clear. “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” The words turned his world upside down. He never recovered.
But there was sight as well as sound. For prior to the blindness (or perhaps in that very instance), Saul saw something that was meant for his eyes alone. No one else on that road was so privileged. Ananias, by revelation, knows what that sighting was. He confirms it in Saul’s hearing. “The God of our fathers has chosen you to … see the Righteous One.”
Saul saw Jesus. On that road, prior to blindness, he caught sight of the Lord himself. Later, giving a listing of all the post-resurrection appearances of the Risen Lord, Paul makes reference to this very event: “last of all he appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:8).
So Ananias gives Saul his marching orders from the Lord. “You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”
What you have seen and heard. Sight and sound. As eye-witness of the risen Jesus, Saul/Paul will spend his life seeking to open other blind eyes, so that others, too, will clearly see Jesus as Lord and rise up to follow.
Sight and sound echoed throughout his ministry.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).
Lord Jesus, may this clear perception grip my own heart this day. May the light of the knowledge of your glory capture my life afresh. May the sound of your voice lead me into obedience. May I rise up to walk in your ways. To your glory. Amen.
Reflect: Write 2 Corinthians 4:6 on a slip of paper and seek to memorize it, bit by bit, during the day. If you don’t manage to get it all, don’t worry – the effort of trying will help you to chew on the words. Look to his glory all day.
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