By Luke Johnson | January 10, 2017
Take a moment to see how everyone is doing and to pray together.
Leader note: This is an ‘active study’. Cast the members of your group as the characters in Acts 9, and choose a Story Reader. Act out the story while the Story Reader reads it.
When the story reaches a “FREEZE!” point, the Story Reader says, “Freeze!” and everyone freezes in place. Run through some questions to help everything think about what’s going on for the characters in the story.
Jesus - speaks with a commanding voice - this is the Resurrected Lord!
Saul - very sure of himself
High Priest - a stuffy hooty-snoot
Men traveling with Saul - sidekicks who stand there speechless when Jesus confronts Saul
Ananias - humble and a bit afraid
Jews in the synagogue - frustrated because Saul is smarter than they are
What is Saul’s job right now?
Why do you think Saul is attacking Christians?
How do you think Saul feels about his job?
(Saul thinks he’s doing God’s work. Since he was young he’s tried to be a good Israelite, serving God by living by the Law God gave to Moses. Saul sees Christians as a threat because, in his mind, they serve a false god and they distract people from following the true God.)
What do you think is going through Saul’s mind?
Does Saul know who is speaking to him?
How would you feel if the guy you hated turned out to be the God of the Universe??
Where does Jesus tell Saul to go? (Why do you think Jesus tells Saul to keep going to Damascus rather than ordering him to “Stop and go home!”?)
How does Saul answer Jesus? How do Saul’s friends respond to the light and voice?
Why do you think Saul didn’t eat or drink for 3 days? How did he spend his time?
(The fake god he was trying to stomp out showed up in person and addressed him by name. Saul’s whole world had been turned upside down. It would be like if you just found out you weren’t actually human, and had a whole family and culture somewhere across the galaxy. You’d have to relearn everything!)
What’s going through Ananias’ mind right now? (“You want me to help -- WHO?!”)
Why do you think Ananias is making excuses?
Has anyone you know made a huge change like this? What was it like to interact with that person after their big life-change?
Why do you think Jesus made Saul go blind?
(Saul was a man of action. Going blind probably forced him to stay still and pray, and to wait for Jesus to tell him what to do next. He was dependent on others to lead him around. And going blind is also a handy metaphor for Saul’s behaviour...)
What was the first thing Saul did after regaining his sight? (Got baptized.)
Why do you think Acts bothers to mention that Saul got baptized? (What does baptism ‘mean’?)
After he got his sight back, how did Saul start to live differently?
How did the Christians and Jewish leaders in Jerusalem receive him?
Jesus drastically changed Saul. He showed up in the middle of a road, and Saul could never be the same. Jesus meets us wherever we are, no matter who we are. But he doesn’t leave us the way he finds us.
Why do you think Luke wrote down this story for people to read?
(On the one hand, it’s kind of an ‘origin story’. Saul became Apostle Paul, and helped to spread the news about Jesus all over the place. And he wrote a big chunk of the New Testament. But Paul’s story is also important because it’s an example of how God pursues us, even when we oppose him.)
Think about your own story -- Where has Jesus ‘shown up’ in your life?
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.