Scripture: Acts 9:23 After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
Observation: Saul was a prominent leader among the Jewish Pharisees, a persecutor of Christians in the early days of the church. Then Saul encountered Jesus while on the road to the city of Damascus – and he was never the same. In fact, he became a Christian evangelist teaching other Jews about Jesus the Christ. To his former fellow Pharisees this was an intolerable betrayal, which is why they sought to kill him.
Application: Growing up in a Catholic family, Catholicism wasn’t viewed as just another Christian denomination akin to Methodist or Baptist or Lutheran. Being Catholic was an identity piece (despite the fact we hardly attended, but that’s another story). It wasn’t easy for some in my family when I announced I would be attending Lutheran seminary to become an ordained Lutheran pastor. They eventually got over it, but it was a bit dicey at first. Fortunately they didn’t try to murder me as they did Saul in our passage.
However there remain parts of the world in which converting to Christianity can get you killed. I saw this first-hand while in West Africa. As we preached the gospel in predominantly Muslim areas, the local Christians had to consider the protection of new Christians – protection from their own families and neighbors. Hard to believe such dangers still exist, but they do.
Prayer: Lord grant your protection to those around the world who suffer persecution for Jesus’ sake. Amen.