Can people change? A leopard can't change its spots, you know! People are what they are. Once they're adults, they can't change. It has to do with their genes, and their environment, and their culture, and their upbringing. Is there more to people than instinct, and environment? Change takes an enormous amount of willpower. Having the will doesn't always mean that change can take place. There has to be the power and strength behind the person, as well as the will, if change is to take place. The God who created us believes we are capable of change, and only happens because God gives us the power to make the change, but it assumes that we can turn around our wills. That is what repentance is; to want to turn direction - to want to turn towards God, rather than away from him. Paul's conversion story gives us a graphic example of this capacity to change, and become the person God always intended us to be. Our passage falls into four parts:
What Saul wanted to do. Paul didn't expect that in his total commitment, and zealous protection of the religion of his Lord, he was misguided and that he was actually doing the very opposite to what his Lord wanted him to do. He was strong-minded, but on the road to Damascus, he comes up against an even more strong- minded WILL than his own -JESUS.
What Jesus wanted Saul to do. This is no gentle inner voice. To turn Saul around, JESUS needed to use shock tactics. Jesus identifies with his disciples so totally, that he says that in persecuting them, Saul is actually persecuting him, JESUS. Saul had been spiritually blind; now he is physically blinded by the glory of JESUS. In response, Paul’s fasting, praying, and waiting, is a sign that he aligned his will to that of JESUS.
What Ananias wanted to do. Ananias didn't want to have anything to do with Saul. Ananias had no reason to think that Saul was any different. His reasons for not wanting to get involved are good ones.
What Jesus wanted Ananias to do. Ananias, like Saul, bowed his will to that of his Lord JESUS. He did what he was told. He calls Saul his brother. He may not trust Saul's capacity to change, but he does trust Jesus to speak truth. Is there some area of blindness in your life that the Lord Jesus is calling you to change? Submit to his Lordship, and know the power of his Spirit in your life!