1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. —Acts 9:1-3
When we last saw Saul, he had just approved of Stephen’s execution (Acts 7:58—8:3) and had embarked on a rampage against believers, “ravaging the church” (v.3). Acts 9:1 gives us a violent update after the interlude with Philip’s ministry outside Jerusalem: “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord . . .” So he’s in a rage! “Breathing threats . . .” he was intimidating his enemies. “I’m going to get you. I’m going to murder you.” Notice, “against the disciples of the Lord . . .” Not the followers of Peter, or John, or James, but the followers of Jesus. If we’re followers of Jesus like those first ones, we can expect a reaction from the world.
Saul “went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus” (v.2). He was on a mission: “Hey yo! I’m going up to Damascus. I want to get some Christians there and drag them off to torture and inprison. I may even kill some of them. Please give me some letters and licenses so that when I get up there nobody’s going to get in my way.”
He didn’t have the names of individual believers, but he had a name for the group: “the Way” (v.2). That reminds us of John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus was saying, “There’s only one way to God! It’s Me!” That’s the message of Christianity. Because believers were so distinct in acknowledging Jesus as the way, the early Christians were actually called “followers of the Way.” I like that.
Saul’s license gave him authority to “bring them bound to Jerusalem” (v.2) anyone he found who belonged “to the Way.” Don’t you love God’s sense of humor? Note Acts 9:3, “Now as he went on his way . . .” He may be on his way he’s about to meet The Way. And isn’t it the way God does it?
“I was going my way until I got intercepted by the Way. Now I’m going His way.” If you’ve never met the Way—Jesus Himself, don’t you think it’s about time to drop your plans and get on board with His? You can trust Him with your life today.
Prayer - Heavenly Father, thank You as always for providing a way, and for the fact that Your Way is a person, Your Son. Lord, help be to be a bold and calm follower of Your Way, wherever it takes me. Help to develop that trust that fully expects You to provide everything I need for the challenges I face when I need it, and perhaps not one second sooner. Thank You for Your faithfulness, In Jesus’ name, Amen.