Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Third Sunday of Easter
Text: Acts 9.1-6 "Saul joins the team "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Can you remember a time when you moved from one way of life to another? Perhaps when you left school or started work. Did you have to change in any way about anything, and what convinced you about the new way of thinking or behaving?
A Window on the Text
A few weeks ago, at the beginning of Advent, we saw Jesus recruit his first disciples from among fishermen. Now we read the well known account of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Another example of recruiting someone to the team? Paul, as he was later named, went on to become a key figure in the development of the early church among the Gentiles, so its right to see this as Jesus calling him to join the team.
Saul was a young man, born into a strict Jewish family and educated by the Pharisees. He spoke greek as well as the local languages. He worked closely with the synagogues to persecute followers of Jesus. The leaders of the Jewish faith had seen many priests join the followers of Jesus, and Saul was working to stop the spread of this threat to the synagogues. He was busy in searching out and capturing the early Christians, and was violent in his methods. What motivated him? We dont know, but one thing is clear, he was not a nice person and its best to think of him as a thug. Not like the hardworking fishermen.
The account is rich in symbolic meaning for the Jews: Saul was travelling to Damascus, away from Jerusalem. This journey was from the holy city to the northernmost edge of the sacred, promised, land; he was moving from purity and the journey represented crossing the boundary between Jew and Gentiles. Saul was struck down, disorientated and became blind: he was no longer healthy. For a devout and zealous Judean, wholeness of body is crucial to his social identity in the community. Then he had to be healed by Ananias, and subsequently baptised: he had passed into a new community. He is given a new name.
Saul had been recruited in a very dramatic manner, and the manner of his recruitment gives legitimacy to his later mission to the Gentiles.
Responding as a community
- Discuss your attitudes to people who have crossed major divisions in today's society. Would you trust someone with a background like Paul's?
- What do we think about people who take new names?
- Pray for those in our churches with a violent past
- Pray for forgiveness about judgmental attitudes