9:20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
How things changed quickly. The hunter became the preacher and then the preacher became the hunted. It seems hard to believe that a man convinced that all followers of Jesus must be rounded up and imprisoned or killed could change so quickly. No training. No education to become a preacher of The Way. How is that possible?
You have to remember Saul had all the information already. As a highly educated Jew he would have had to memorize all the books of Moses and likely much if not all of what we call the Old Testament. We often think people lack information and sometimes that is the case but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes the issue is blindness. Jesus spoke of this blindness often especially when addressing the religious leaders. Think of how silly and pointless it would be to keep placing more and more visual evidence in front of a physically blind person.
Years ago I was chatting with a blind fellow on the phone. I asked him about his life, about his blindness etc... He told me he was born blind. Like a dumby I responded and said "so you have never seen any colours?! If I say red or blue to you it means nothing?"
To this he replied "I know what black looks like."
"How do you know what black looks like George?"
"I see it all the time" he said.
I'm sure the silence was unusually long. George only ever saw black. It hit me hard. Not only had he never seen anything but black, but he couldn't relate to anything but black. Black was his world. To describe anything to him using visual cues was pointless. He could only communicate in terms of touch - hard/soft or smell, sound, taste.
George taught me so much more than I ever taught him. His world was limited to 4 senses rather than 5. No amount of piling on descriptions could change the fact that blue and red meant nothing to him.
Saul was blind too. Blind to anything but 1st century Jewish thought. He knew all the words and sentences in all the books of the prophets but he couldn't see what they were saying. He could see the words and hear the sounds but was blind and deaf to their meaning. Seeing he could not see and hearing he could not hear.
These concepts are profound. Saul was not really in rebellion against God. He was blind to Him. He actually believed hunting Christians was doing God a favour. He believed he was working for Him when he was actually working against Him.
Once when George was at blind camp he stepped over one of the guide ropes thinking he was going to a building when in reality he almost fell off a cliff into the ocean. What we believe does not alter reality. Blindness is serious. Thankfully one of us who could see rescued him before the ill-fated plunge.
God rescued Saul that day on the way to Damascus. He "opened his eyes" so that Saul could see and then choose. You can't choose what you can't see. The reason the hunter was able to immediately switch roles and prove from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah was because he had already memorized all the information. He just couldn't see what it all meant.
Last week I got glasses and now I can see things I couldn't see before and immediately was able to read signs at a much greater distance. I didn't need to learn to read. I already knew how to read I just needed to be able to see.
Have you ever considered the deep implications of all this? Regaining sight requires a miracle or a medical intervention. We need to stop arguing with blind people and instead pray they receive their sight. We need to pray we too receive our sight...