hated those who believed in Jesus and longed to
find some way to get rid of them.
In Jerusalem Saul had mistreated and put in prison many who believed in Jesus. He had made life so miserable for the believers
that many had fled to other cities for safety.
News reached Jerusalem that the religion of Jesus was growing and spreading through the whole country. The more the Jewish
leaders tried to stamp it out, the faster it grew. What should they do?
Saul became more angry than ever. "I will stop this crazy religion yet!" he cried. Rushing to the high priest he asked permission to
go to Damascus and search for followers of Jesus. Saul planned to kill them or bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners.
The high priest wrote letters to the rulers of the synagogues in Damascus. He told them about Saul's coming and commanded them
to help Saul find the believers in their city. Saul was to take these letters to the synagogues.
With a few friends he started at once on the long trip to Damascus. Other messengers hurried to Damascus too. They wanted to warn the believers that Saul was on his way to arrest them.
Saul and his company traveled north from Jerusalem and passed through many towns and villages. Finally they neared Damascus.
It was noon. Saul and his friends could see the great wall of Damascus ahead. Suddenly they stopped. A great light from heaven shone round about them, and Saul fell to the ground. The men thought they heard thunder, but Saul heard a voice from heaven call
out, "Saul! Saul! why are you persecuting me?"
Saul was both amazed and terrified. He had thought he was protecting the true religion when he opposed those who believed in Jesus. He cried out, "Who are you, Lord?"
The voice answered, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are fighting against. It is hard for you to oppose me."
Instantly Saul remembered how cruelly he had treated men who believed in this Jesus. How wrong he had been! Now he asked, "What shall I do, Lord?"
"Get up and go into Damascus," Jesus told him. "There you will be told what you must do."
Saul got up, but he could not see which way to go. The great light had blinded his eyes. The men who were with Saul had not
been blinded by its brightness. They led Saul, trembling with fright,
into the city to the house of Judas.
Three days passed, and still Saul could not see. He sat alone in his darkness. In his heart he was so disturbed that he could neither
eat nor drink. He had been so wrong!
Also in Damascus was a believer named Ananias, to whom God gave a vision. In the vision God called,
"Here am I, Lord," he answered.
The voice said, "Get up and go to the street called Straight. At the house of Judas ask for a man called Saul of Tarsus, for this
man is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming
in and laying his hand on him so he will receive his sight."
Ananias was surprised to hear this, and it was hard for him to believe what he had heard. Every believer knew and feared this man
"Lord," Ananias said, "I have heard many tell what this man did in Jerusalem. He persecutes those who believe. Now the chief priests
have sent him here to capture all those who believe in you."
God answered, "Go, do as I have commanded. Saul is a chosen servant of mine to carry my name to the Gentiles and even to the kings
of the earth, as well as to the Jews. I will show him that he must
suffer great things for my sake."
No longer was Ananias afraid to obey. Because he believed God's words, he did just as he had been told. At the house of Judas he found the blind Saul. Gently he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,
who appeared to you on the road to Damascus, has sent me so you
would receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
When he placed his hands on Saul, something like scales fell from the blinded eyes. At once Saul could see. The first thing he wanted
was to be baptized, for he was now eager to please God. No longer was his heart filled with hatred for anyone. Friends brought him
food. After eating he felt stronger.
For several days Saul met with the believers at Damascus. From the very first he spent some of his time in the synagogue, preaching
that Christ is the Son of God.