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Ministering to Hate

Acts 9  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:58
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Intro: The first person to sit with me at church (Layton and Max)
We left off at a place where the mission of hate and persecution was running rampant against the church. Saul was hell bent on bringing the church to a screeching halt.
As he got to the end of his journey to Damascus where he had permission to persecute anyone associated with Jesus, Jesus intervened.
It was in this process that Saul heard the voice of Christ calling him out in the persecution of the church.
He essentially said, "You are not persecuting my people, you are persecuting me." It was after that moment that Saul was not able to eat or drink and had ben blinded by a light.
We associated the lack of eating or drinking with the notion that Saul realized in that moment that he was persecuting Jesus. This is the same Jesus that had been hung on a cross and died.
This changed everything Saul ever new. As a devout Jew, there was no way that Jesus was the Messiah. Yet, Jesus was alive.
Imagine the weight of realizing that he was not just persecuting the people of God but God himself.
Every person he wrongly imprisoned along the way. Standing by as Stephen was stoned to death. Every act he committed against God was fully coming to light to him.
Before Saul could make amends and try to correct his actions the voice of Jesus gives marching orders to go into the city.
Saul was not just facing the reality that Jesus was alive, but now was taking orders from Him.
As prominent a role the "Saul to Paul" story will play in the future of the book and story of Acts, we will see that Jesus responded to Saul's mission of hate with an unlikely person.
This person would in turn go on behalf of Jesus to respond in an unlikely way.
First this morning we will see that...

1. _God sends Ananias_

Acts 9:10–16 ESV
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

1. God sends Ananias

Illus: After attending the high school graduation of 600 student class when the final name was read, the crowd roared and stood on their feet. What a moment for him. He was king of the world for that moment.
Why do I share this story? I am thinking that this must have been what it felt like for Ananias. He was not any of the church leaders from this exploding church.
We learn that he is a disciple and there is a high probability that he was a fairly new one.
We don't know much about him, and we won't hear about him again, except one more time when Paul mentions him by giving a fuller account of what was said to him by Ananias (Acts 22).
But look at the situation that we have here. In this act of calling Ananias, we see that God not only calls people to serve Him that will have prominent roles.
God will also call people who are more behind the scenes and lesser known as Ananias. But that calling will still have major impact.
Let's not lose site that the big names are not even around in this story. Peter and John are still helping with the Samaritan church that is blowing up.
The others are scattered around and spreading the gospel, but God chose in this time and moment through this newly dawned disciple.
I love that he used a man from Damascus at that. Trust me, there would not have been many that would not have known that Saul was coming.
Word would have quickly gotten around that high priest gave Saul authority to and find any believer in that area. Surprising to find anyone around let alone willing to take on this task.
Now looking at the situation we can see that there was some hesitancy involved here on the part of Ananias and rightfully so.
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.
14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
So, what would it take to convince you to go? For Ananias, even Jesus speaking to him in a vision left him to question what to do, but it was the words of Jesus that changed everything.
Jesus reiterated, "Go", and go he went.
This is the command of the disciple of Christ. Go and make disciples. This is what we are to do and sometimes He will send us into the danger zone.
But just because we know that does not make it easier. There was a lot of significance in what Jesus said to Ananias.
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Jesus did not just have the plan of using Saul because he was persecuting the church but who better when you consider his background? Theologian, Tom Wright, wrote about it this way...
"The time has come for the message about the one true God, the Jewish good news of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to be told to the wider world, the world of pagans, Gentiles, people who know nothing and care less about this God.
And the person to do this task, to spearhead the work of getting the message out to those outside the law, must be the one who most clearly, of all others of his generation, had been the most keen to stamp the message out.
Nobody must ever be able to say that people took the message to the Gentiles because they weren’t bothered about Israel and its traditions, or because they didn’t understand how important the law itself really was.
No: when you want to reach the pagan world, the person to do it will be a hard-line, fanatical, ultra-nationalist, super-orthodox Pharisaic Jew. And then they say that God doesn’t have a sense of humor."
When Jesus said what he said, scared or not, it clicked, and he went. Let's remember that he assured Ananias as well that Saul would understand what suffering would look like.
Being an apostle, disciple, or follow for Christ is not for a return of a comfortable life.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "When God calls someone, He bids them come and die." So it was with the calling of Saul, the calling of Ananias, and with all of us as well.
Armed with that knowledge, and the command to go, Ananias goes on behalf of Jesus and responds in the most unlikely way. Lastly this morning we see ...

2. _Ananias ministers to Saul_

Acts 9:17–19 ESV
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.

2. Ananias ministers to Saul

Can you imagine what is going through the head of Saul as?
Not only is the vision he saw coming true, but this man, whom he was going to destroy more than likely, places his hands on Saul and calls him brother.
Illus: The healing touch from those you persecute. (Susan Osborne)
I love the use of the word brother here. This is a special word to me as I am sure that you are more that used to me calling you brother or sister.
It is how I speak. I really do believe you to be my family. I really do love you. I want you to know that I feel kinship with you all and that is why I call you that.
It is the active way for me to let you know you are family without having to hug you!
Now Saul to is feeling this kinship, this new brotherhood in Christ. Scales fell from his eyes and he can see again. He is now looking with the eyes of Jesus, and no longer the eyes of hatred.
In this new clarity, he knew Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was in the sanctification business and Saul was the newest customer.
Sanctification means that we are set apart of the purpose of God now, and set apart Saul was now going to be.
The message from Ananias... Jesus appeared to you, Jesus sent me to you, Jesus will give your sight back, and Jesus will fill you with the HS. The message received from Saul...regeneration.
An old story tells about a little boy in Sunday school whose teacher asked what part he played in his salvation. He responded that his conversion had been partly God’s work and partly his own.
An astounded and rather nervous teacher inquired about that strange answer until the boy replied, “I opposed God all I could, and he did the rest.” (Gangle)
If you are done opposing God today, He is ready to take care of business in you. The business is sanctification and the payout is incredible.
How do you respond? What it comes down to is what you believe.
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