Last week we looked at Stephen, and how through the Holy Spirit, he performed miracles and spoke boldly about Jesus. The things he said made the Jewish religious rulers angry at him, and they tried to stop him speaking about Jesus. When they realised they couldn't persuade him to stop, they told lies about him, and killed him.
This week we look at the transformation of someone who had looked on, approving of the killing of Stephen, and how God changed this man's heart and mind. Watch the video:
Today's Bible passage comes from Acts 9: 3-20. The Good News Translation is below, or you can use a different version if you'd like.
As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” he asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but could not see a thing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. For three days he was not able to see, and during that time he did not eat or drink anything.
There was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. He had a vision, in which the Lord said to him, “Ananias!”
“Here I am, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord said to him, “Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again.”
Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you.”
The Lord said to him, “Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake.”
So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me—Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” At once something like fish scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; and after he had eaten, his strength came back.
Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. He went straight to the synagogues and began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God.
Click the image below to see a pdf file of Saul masks. Print out the pdf file (showing before/after images of Saul). Colour them in, then stick them back-to-back with a lollipop stick between the sheets. If you don't have a lollipop stick, even a strip of card will do. On the "before" side (sad face), cut out some baking parchment, or tin foil, or even any coloured paper, to the shape of the eyes, and glue them in place over the eyelids to represent the scales that fell from Saul's eyes. Now you have a mask that shows the transformation that took place in Saul's heart.
Thank you that you had the power to change Saul's heart and mind. Thank you that the same power is available to us through the Holy Spirit. Thank you that you want each of us to turn and follow you as Saul did. Help us to be changed and moulded by the Holy Spirit, to become more like Jesus each day.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.