Blinded by the Light
n. A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are
combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist.
Saul of Tarsus was a powerful man among the Jewish religious leaders of his
day. In fact, he describes himself thusly: Phl 3:5 Circumcised the eighth
day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the
Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 Concerning zeal,
persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law,
Act 22:3 I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in
Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught
according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous
toward God, as ye all are this day.
His zeal was unmatched in the persecution of the early church. Well versed in
the law and the tradition of the fathers, Saul combined all of these things to
obtain letters of authority from the Chief priests. Act 22:19 And I said,
Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed
on thee: 22:20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I
also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of
them that slew him.
Was Saul in Jerusalem during the Passover and a witness to the mobs before
Pilate? Did he stand afar off and view the crucifixion of Christ? He was after
all a devout Jew, likely to be in the Holy city as were tens of thousands of
others at that time of year. Jerusalem was his adopted city.
As far as the church was concerned, Saul was the most dangerous man in all of
Israel. He had not only the skill and experience of beating and imprisoning
believers, he quickly obtained wider authority. Act 9:1 And Saul, yet
breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went
unto the high priest, Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to
the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or
women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round
about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard
a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Act 9:5 And he
said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:
[it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Oxen were moved and guided by a device called an ox goad. Many describe it as a
farming implement, but itís also mentioned in scripture as the weapon that
killed 600. It was a long pole with several metal pointed spears (pricks) in a
bunch at its end. Placed at the back of the leg of the ox or cattle, much as we
might use a cattle prod today, it kept the animals from backing up, forcing them
to continue forward. As it applied sharp pointed pressure to the back of the
leg, it was nearly impossible to kick against it.
Blinded by the light. Light brings darkness. Saul went instantly from
being the most powerful man in Judea to the most helpless. Can you imagine what
it must be like to be suddenly blind? Unable to take more than a step in any
direction for fear of falling into a ditch, stumbling against a rock, falling
into a body of water, or crossing the path of a quiet serpent? Quickly subdued,
Paul now had to turn unto the men he commanded to beg for assistance. Act 22:11
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of
them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to
do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be
told thee what thou must do. Act 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him
stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. They stood
speechless. A newly blind Saul must have had to cry out in panic for them to
help him. Act 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were
opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought [him] into
Damascus. Act 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor
And for three days, he probably didnít move. Three days and nights in a dark
location, thatís an interesting scenario. Saul either sat in a chair or lay on
a bed in a strange environment, unable to see, and not knowing what was at his
left hand or his right. All he saw was his own darkness. The light that blinded
him was also the one showing him his very depravity. How poetic for a man to be
cast down from his lofty position by the very one he was persecuting. For three
days and nights, a blind, weary Saul cried, prayed, and saw every sin he had
Act 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to
him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I [am here],
Lord. Act 9:11 And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the
street which is called Straight, (How fitting the chief of sinners be put on
the straight street) and enquire in the house of Judas for (house of
Judas Ė that puts Saulís treachery against Jesus in perspective) [one] called
Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, Behold, he prayeth. Indeed.
This self righteous man, Pharisee of Pharisees, probably truly prayed for the
first time in his life. Praying now to the very Christ he battled against hours
earlier. Isnít that our case?
But soon, prayers about sin, depravity and current conditions give way to prayer
with the Spirit, and some understanding begins to come to Saul. The light that
brought him darkness Ė and brought his darkness to light, now is instructing,
healing, imparting grace, wisdom and mercy and bringing life and immortality to
light. The light that shined round about at noonday and brought Saul to the
earth now shines from the inside out.
Act 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias
coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Act
9:13 Then Ananias answered, (Lord, you
donít know this man Ė heís evil-- heíll harm me!) Lord, I have heard by many
of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: Act
9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call
on thy name. Have we ever considered the response of Ananias? Speaking
with the creator of the universe, telling Him he was afraid of what Saul might
do unto him!!? Even as the Lord has told him of Saulís vision and what is to
come to pass, he still shows a fear and lack of faith. Act 9:15 But the
Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my
name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: Act 9:16 For I
will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. Act 9:17 And
Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him
said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way
as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be
filled with the Holy Ghost.
Act 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as
it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was
baptized. Saulís experience was
sufficient to convince him he was not only dealing with the Lord, but had been
dealt with by the Lord. Immediately he set about to show the answer of a good
conscience by water baptism. Saul wasnít showing his conscience was clear, but
understood the good conscience placed in him by the Holy Spirit required answer.
Act 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was
strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at
Damascus. Our strength comes from the
meat of the gospel. Saul had received instruction from God and had it confirmed
by Ananias. Now he was ready to show forth the light that illuminated him.
Act 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the
Son of God. Act 9:21 But all that heard [him] were amazed, and said; Is not
this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came
hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
Act 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which
dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Paul thought he had perfect
light on this new Christian sect that was causing the Jews so much trouble. The
true perfect light blinded him, and then opened his eyes. We all sing the line
in Amazing Grace I once was blind, but now I see, but Paul was blinded
and given sight to see and understand his depravity in a new light and with
those eyes, seeing his own sin, was able to explain to us how clearly God sees
Brother Royce Ellis