May 24th Acts, 9
1: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 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. 3: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 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. 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. 7: And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 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. 9: And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 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. 11: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 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. 13: Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 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: 16: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 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. 18: And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19: And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20: And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 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? 22: But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23: And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25: Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26: And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27: But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28: And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29: And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30: Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31: Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. 32: And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 33: And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 34: And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. 35: And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. 36: Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37: And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38: And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39: Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. 40: But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41: And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42: And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 43: And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
Saul the great enemy of the church now asks for a letter of introduction from the religious leaders at Jerusalem so that he can go to Damascus and continue his persecution of christians there. They grant him their permission and are probably very glad to have such a champion on their side. His mission is to arrest men or women and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. As he journeys and draws near to Damascus suddenly he is surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun and he falls into the dust. Then he hears a voice in the Hebrew language saying, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? He replies, who are you Lord? And the answer came; I am Jesus, who you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks. The pricks were large spikes attached to a Ox goad which was used by an ox master to move such a heavy beast back onto the right path. It seems that the lord had been disciplining Saul for a while and he had been kicking against it, but now finally Christ steps in, in judgment to stop his mad career. Saul was by this time trembling and astonished and he said Lord, What do you want me to do? And the answer was, Get up and go into the city and it will be told you what you must do. Those with Saul heard a voice but saw nobody. When Saul arose from the earth he found he was blind. So they led him by the hand into the city and for three days Saul prayed and fasted. In Damascus the very man that Saul would have arrested, Ananias had a vision in the night and the Lord told to go and meet Saul and where to find him and that he was to go and heal him of his blindness. But Ananias complained that he had heard terrible things about him. But the Lord said Go and do as l say, because he is a chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. And that he will Saul what great sufferings he will suffer for his name. Ananias went to meet Saul and finding him called him Brother Saul. And then he related all that the Lord had said. As he spoke the blindness fell from his eyes and he was strengthened and he got up and was baptised. Then he ate food and was strengthened more. Saul was in Damascus for a while preaching that Jesus is the Son of God. Everyone who heard him were amazed and knew questioned he was. Eventually as his ministry grew irresistible, proving that Jesus was the Messiah, the religious leaders began to plot his murder. He escaped in a basket over the wall of the city. Saul returned to Jerusalem but the disciples were wary of him. However Barnabas introduced him to the apostles and told of his fearless preaching in Damascus. Saul preached to the Greek speaking Jews and they plotted his murder so when it was known the brethren sent him to Caesarea and on to Tarsus his home city. The churches of Judea and Galilee had rest from the persecution headed by Saul and the work of the Lord grew. Peter set out on a Pastoral journey, west to Lydda. There he found Aeneas who was paralysed for eight years. Peter healed him and he rose up and walked. The people of Lydda and Saron turned to the lord. When Peter came to Joppa there was a disciple called Tabitha or Dorcas. She was a righteous person full of charitable works she had got sick and died. Two men were sent to fetch Peter to raise her up. Peter came and raised her from the dead. Peter stayed for a while in Simon the tanner’s house.