Acts 9:11-12- So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight.” NKJV
God has a way of bringing people into our lives that become lifelong friends. Some of those people we would have never imagined that we would talk with, let alone call our friends. Such was the case with Ananias and Saul.
Ananias lived in Damascus. Damascus had become home to many new believers. As one of the oldest cities in the Middle East, it was strategically located for commerce and protection, and many Jews found their way there for a new life.
Paul was headed to Damascus to look for believers, that he might arrest them and have them prosecuted for their faith in Jesus.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.Acts 9:1-2 NKJV
However, things didn’t go as Saul planned them to go. Instead of going into Damascus and terrorizing the believers, he had an encounter with the Lord!
As he traveled he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him [displaying the glory and majesty of Christ]; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice [from heaven] saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting and oppressing Me?” And Saul said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”Acts 9:3-6 AMP
I find it interesting that as soon as Saul sees the light from heaven, and hears the voice from heaven, he recognizes that the Lord has interrupted his journey. But he doesn’t know who the Lord is! So Jesus tells Saul that He, Jesus is Lord, and He’s the One whom Saul is oppressing and persecuting. Side note- when people are harassing us, persecuting us, attacking us for the sake of the gospel, it is really Jesus whom they are attacking. If we learn to trust Him to vindicate Himself (and I say “we”), then we can experience greater times of victory!
Anyway, Jesus told Saul to continue on his journey to Damascus, and there he will find out all that he needs to know moving forward. So Saul arrives in Damascus, without sight, and in need of someone to guide him to a place to stay. While Saul is there, he is fasting and praying, and he does so for three days and nights. He then has a vision, and in the vision, he sees a man named Ananias who will come to him and lay hands on him that he might receive his sight.
Ananias was a godly man. An obedient disciple of Jesus. I know this because Jesus gave him the assignment of going to Saul to pray for him.
…And the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he answered, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul; for he is praying [there], and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him, so that he may regain his sight.”Acts 9:10-12 AMP
Jesus gives Ananias specific details about where he is being sent and to whom he is being sent. Jesus told him to go to the street called Straight. He told Ananias that a man named Judas lived on that street, and he had a house guest, Saul of Tarsus. Jesus tells Ananias that Saul is in prayer and has had a vision that someone named Ananias will come and pray for him that his sight might be restored.
Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”Acts 9:13-14 NKJV
Ananias is greatly concerned about this assignment, and I can understand Ananias’ position. It’s almost like he felt a need to tell Jesus about Saul, in case Jesus didn’t know! He reminds Jesus that this is Saul who has done a lot of harm to His people in Jerusalem. He informs Jesus that he has heard all about Saul! And he tells Jesus that he heard that the only reason Saul came to Damascus was to do the same thing in Damascus that he had done in Jerusalem, persecute the believers! But Jesus knew exactly who he was sending Ananias to pray for.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.Acts 9:15 NKJV
So Ananias went to visit Saul as Jesus had instructed. But what he knew of Saul, and what he saw and learned when he met Saul contradictory one another. For Saul headed towards Damascus as an enemy of the people of God but arrived as one having had an encounter with Jesus! Ananias talked with Saul, prayed with Saul, and baptized Saul. But Jesus saved Saul, delivered him from himself and religion, and filled him with His precious Spirit. And Saul immediately began proclaiming Him in the city!
Ananias was instrumental in Saul’s acceptance in the city of Damascus. Like him, others knew of Saul of Tarsus and why he had come to Damascus. So Ananias had to take Saul around the believers and give him an opportunity to share his testimony, validating it by sharing how Jesus sent him to pray for Saul. Two men who would have been at odds have now become brothers and friends in Christ. For when Jesus brings you together, you have to accept that He knows what He is doing.
But when it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem…but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem…Galatians 1:15-18 NKJV
Saul speaks of receiving the revelation of Jesus. That happened on the road to Damascus. He was then led to Damascus, where he and Ananias became friends. Then he went to Arabia for a period of time but returned back to Damascus. Three years later, he went to Jerusalem. What’s my point? He had a friend and brother in Damascus named Ananias. After his time in Arabia, he went back to spend time in Damascus with Ananias and the believers. It appears he was there for at least three years. They had bonded as brothers, and they had become friends.
Jesus has a way of bringing the strangest of people together as friends. I have experienced meeting someone I initially didn’t want to have anything to do with, and later they became dear to my heart. Or where someone took offense with me immediately without really knowing me and later became a dear friend.
Sometimes we have the facts right about people, as Ananias did regarding Saul. And sometimes, we have it all wrong. The point is, I have learned that in Jesus, some of the strangest people you can meet, can indeed become a dear friend, and they will have you asking, who would have thought?
We need to keep our hearts and ears open to Jesus when dealing with people, especially when sharing our faith in the Lord Jesus. In doing so, you may run into a Saul and Ananias experience that can change both of your lives forever! Wonderful Jesus!