Understanding Acts | Disciple’s Demise | Acts 9.23-31 | Movementministriesblog.com

by | Nov 16, 2022

“After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” Acts 9.23-31

Saul’s life as a disciple was not going to be easy. Even when Jesus was speaking to Ananias about Saul he said that Saul was going to have to suffer much in His name. Well, the suffering has begun! While still in Damascus, Jews begin to threaten Saul’s life so much so that his followers (yes, he had already gained followers/disciples) rescued him by lowering him in a basket through an opening the wall. (How crazy is that!?) 

And then, Saul comes to Jerusalem where the original disciples of Jesus don’t want anything to do with him. They are fearful of him because last time Saul was in town he was trying to kill them! Next, as he was debating with the Hellenistic Jews, they tried to kill him. I mean, can’t we give this guy a rest? I wonder how many times in the New Testament we read about Saul’s/Paul’s near death experiences (Read https://www.theologyofwork.org/new-testament/acts/leadership-as-witness-acts-20-28/pauls-suffering-acts-20-28 for a short list.)

Finally, Saul is forced to leave Jerusalem for fear of his life. Just a brief time before, he was the persecutor, now he is the persecuted. He was the wolf, now he is the lamb. Before he was filled with evil, hate and zealously passionate about anyone not following the letter of the Law, and now he is filled with grace, trying to lead people into the freedom that only Jesus can offer.

This disciples’ demise would not be the end of Saul. In fact, it was only the beginning of his work in the world to become the churches most prolific evangelist among the gentiles and Greeks. He would be used by Jesus to help spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

Isn’t it ironic that what we think is for our demise is actually for God’s promotion? We humble ourselves before the Lord so that he might be exalted. We do not exalt ourselves. Even when seeking positions of influence and power, we do so for the sake of the cause of Christ, and not our own.

And yet, when persecution comes knocking, how will we respond? Will we continue to represent the One who died to save us? Jesus gave it all so that we might have life today and life to come.

Whatever you might be facing, I hope it’s not as difficult as Saul. Discover hope in the Lord. Find favor in Christ by being obedient to his call and faithful to his voice.

“O Lord God, you are good. I thank you for saving me. Thank you for the example of Saul who faced so many trials yet remained seeking your face and proclaiming your name. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me be your hands, feet and voice. Use me for the advancement of your Kingdom and for the proclamation of your Word. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen