The passage can of course be read here.
There’s a brand that was popular a few years ago called ‘No Fear’. I remember seeing celebrities wearing baseball caps with the logo on display, I suppose it was making a statement; ‘I am not afraid’. The truth is most, if not all of us, are afraid sometimes. My daughter, who is a teacher, has to deal with bullying and she tells me that the bullies themselves are often dealing with fears which result in bullying behaviour. Perhaps as we get older we became more adept at hiding our fears.
If we cast our minds back to Luke chapter one, we looked at the prophecy of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. It is a wonderful prophecy that deals with the role of John and also the mission of the coming Messiah, Jesus. It says that he came;
“To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” (Luke 1:74-75)
In his victory at the cross, Jesus has dealt with the things that we should fear. If a person is right with God, everything else should fall into place:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
The theory is easy; working it out in the real world is more of a challenge. It’s a battle we face every day and one Ananias faced in today’s passage.
We know very little about Ananias. He appears in Scripture only here and later when Paul gave his own account of this incident (Acts 22:12-16). We know;
“He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.” (22:12)
He must surely have had a few doubts; Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor? He knew though, that when God speaks, the only appropriate response is obedience.
Saul would go on to be one of the most important Christians in the history of the Church but at this point he was blind, probably confused and in need of a friend. Ananias’ obedience may have seemed like a small thing but it was highly significant, like the young farmer Albert McMakin, who nagged the young Billy Graham to go to an evangelistic meeting or the unnamed, dying, elderly patient who shared her faith with Francis Collins, sometimes small things make a big impact. There’s a lesson here for us; trust God in the small things, even when they are scary.
For Saul, it must have been a very long three days. He was praying and he had seen a vision but his world had turned upside down and he was waiting in the dark. It’s an experience that’s familiar to many of us. We believe and we pray but we see no end in sight. Here again we can learn from this passage. God was preparing his servant Ananias and was sending him to Saul. Sometimes we are unaware of the unseen hand of God bringing things about for his glory. If you are waiting in the dark, take Saul’s example and hold on to the word of God.
When Ananias met Saul, things seem to have happened very quickly. His eyes were healed (v18), he was filled with the Spirit (v17) and he was baptised (v18). I’m sure Ananias would have told Saul of the great plans the Lord had for him, it was exciting stuff and as it turned out, probably much more exciting than either of them could have imagined. From what we know of Ananias, it’s probable that he would have shared all that the Lord had revealed to him about Saul. That he would have to suffer for the name of Jesus. That’s not so exciting and it doesn’t really fit in with the idea that as long as you have faith, you will be healthy, wealthy and happy. But it is real and it is a pattern that has been repeated throughout Church history and continues today. Persecuted Christians share the Gospel. For those of us living in places where there is religious freedom; that freedom has not been cheap, let us not take it for granted.
We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same commission
The same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition
To Thee we yield our powers (Facing a Task Unfinished – Frank Houghton)