“Word for Today” – Acts 9 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

October 1, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Eye 1I began to notice it during Vacation Bible School.  A couple of summers ago, the church where I worked was holding its annual VBS.  A couple of days into the event, I began to notice that the contact in my left eye was very uncomfortable and even seemed to be clouding my vision.  So, I swapped my old contacts for a new pair.  But it didn’t change a thing.  My left eye was still red and watering and my vision was still cloudy.

I finally decided that it was time to visit the optometrist.  The prognosis was not good.  “Your left eye is infected,” he informed me.  You’re going to need to get rid of your contacts, wear glasses for a couple of months, and make a visit to the ophthalmologist to get some prescription eye drops.  And so began a long road to recovery in my left eye.  According to my optometrist, I had been harboring this infection for some time.  I had just gotten so used to my blurry eyesight, however, I had barely even noticed.

One of the accusations that Jesus levels against the religious leaders of his day is that they are “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16,24).  The religious leaders would have been deeply offended at such a statement, for they prided themselves on their ability to see and discern spiritual truth.  As Paul writes concerning the pious Jews of his day: “You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth” (Romans 2:19-20).  These Jews, of course, are not nearly so lucid as they perceive themselves to be.  Paul continues, “You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law” (Romans 2:21-23)?  The religious elite, it seems, had a spiritual eye infection of sorts.  But they had gotten so used to their blurry – and even blinded – eyesight, they had barely even noticed.

Our reading for today from Acts 9 recounts one of the most important stories in all Christian history – the conversion of Saul to Christianity.  One commentator duly notes about this event:

The most important event in human history apart from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the conversion to Christianity of Saul of Tarsus. If Saul had remained a Jewish rabbi, we would be missing thirteen of twenty-seven books of the New Testament and Christianity’s early major expansion to the Gentiles. (William J. Larkin, IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Acts)

The story is well known.  Saul is “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (verse 1).  Indeed, he stood guard at the stoning of Christianity’s first martyr, Stephen (cf. Acts 8:1).  And now he’s journeying to Damascus to continue his crusade against Christianity.  But as he’s on his way, “a light from heaven flashes around him” (verse 3) and the living Lord speaks to him:  “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me” (verse 4)?  Following his encounter with Christ, Luke makes this important note about Paul’s eyesight:  “Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing” (verse 8).  It seems as though Jesus had given Saul a physical manifestation of his sad spiritual state.  For Saul was one of the blind guides that Jesus had so acerbically condemned during his earthly ministry.

Blessedly, Saul’s blindness was only temporary.  Three days later, after he was filled with the Holy Spirit, “something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.  He got up and was baptized” (verse 18).  Saul has gone from a blinded spiritual reprobate to a seeing regenerated child of God!

Most everyone has sung the words of the old John Newton hymn:  “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”  This was most certainly the case – spiritually and physically – in Saul’s life.  But it is true in our lives too.  For, as God’s children, we can see!  Although this sinful world and our depraved natures prevent us from seeing perfectly (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12), we can nevertheless see all we need to see for our salvation – for we can see the cross.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 8 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 10 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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