God’s plan for Saul has begun. Saul is living and preaching about Jesus in the city of Damascus as a baptized believer and disciple of Christ. Saul is regularly going into the synagogues of Damascus to teach the Jewish people about Christ. Saul knows the Jews at the synagogues are believers in the one true God, and that their hearts are like fertile soil ready for planting the gospel. Saul utilizes his knowledge, experience, and the scriptures to reason with them and convert them to Christians.
However, after some time passes, several of the Damascus Jews decide they don’t like what Saul is preaching, and Saul must go. They don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the fulfillment of Jewish prophesy, and the Savior of the world. As a result of their disbelief and fueled by their hatred, they devise a plot to kill Saul. The text tells us in Acts 9:23-24, they watch the gates both day and night hoping for an opportunity to end Saul’s life, and his ministry. God, on the other hand, has a different plan for Saul, and as we know, God’s plans always come to pass (Isaiah 14:24).
Although the Jews plot to kill Saul, they are not successful. One night, with the disciples’ help, Saul escapes over the wall of the city in a basket. Saul leaves Damascus, flees for his life, and goes back to Jerusalem, the city where he once terrorized disciples of Christ.
In Jerusalem, the Christians are fearful of Saul and reluctant to accept the newly converted preacher of Jesus. It would take more to convince them than simply Saul telling them he had changed. Remember Saul stood by while the faithful disciple, Stephen, was stoned to death. Saul was responsible for harming many of their friends and loved ones. The Christians in Jerusalem would not only have to trust Saul, but they would also have to forgive him.
New to the faith, Saul faces many hardships. It would seem that Saul’s newfound life as a Christian is quickly falling to pieces. He is forced to flee for his life in Damascus. He is an outcast and rejected by the Christians in Jerusalem. To make matters worse, returning to Jerusalem forces him to confront the sins of his past. So how does Saul get through this challenging time?
God provides Saul with a friend…