For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. – Acts 9:19b-22
There are those who say that they have no trouble with Jesus, but that their beef is with the church. They say they love Jesus, but not those who call themselves Christians. It’s tantamount to saying that the church is too full of hypocrites. One person offered a snappy reply to such an observation: “There’s always room for one more!” Ugh.
But think about it. If you’re really wanting to follow Jesus you will have a heart for sinners. You will not withdraw even from the self-righteous hypocrites, for Jesus would talk with them regularly – albeit in a confrontational mode, for they needed to be warned, and called to repentance. So to say you love Jesus but not his church is a dicey dance to say the least.
Jesus loves sinners, and he’s shown that in the conversion of Saul, the role of Ananias in bringing Saul to a place of restoration, and now in Saul’s ministry of advocating for Jesus among those who would deny him, or his message.
That takes two forms here in this section: One is the process of confounding those who deny that Jesus is the Christ. Some people make Jesus a do-gooder, a prophet, a teacher of love – but not the Savior of the World. Some make him a religious charlatan and a fraud. Saul had once thought the same, but his encounter and Ananias’ ministry had changed his heart. Now Saul’s rich wealth of Old Testament knowledge was overflowing in new clarity: it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God had promised through the Old Testament prophets. Saul is now confounding those who say otherwise. This was his work among the Jews.
Saul is also saying that Jesus is the Son of God. This is his work among those who don’t bring a strong Jewish sensibility and ethos into their worldview. Jesus is not just some religious figure. He is the Son of God.
Perhaps you know someone who thinks little of Jesus. That one well should hear that Jesus is to be taken quite seriously. Some may think that Jesus is important and good, but not the answer for all our spiritual needs. That one would do well to learn why Saul is confounding those who would dismiss Jesus in this subtle manner. Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ – the One anointed by God to be Savior of the world. He reaches out to all people with the grace of God and the truth of his word.