Paul and the Wall
- Tell how Jesus took care of Paul.
- Feel assured that Jesus always takes care of us.
- Thank Jesus for his love and care.
Paul's conversion involves a call to do a specific task for the Lord. Jesus tells him to go into the city "and you will be told what you must do" (9:6). Ananias confirms that call by telling Paul that he will become an ambassador of the gospel.
Paul takes up his work for the Lord almost immediately. Within a few days we find him in the synagogue preaching and arguing that "Jesus is the Son of God" and convincing many people that this is true (9:20-22).
You may wonder how Paul is able to do this so quickly without being coached by the other apostles. Remember that as a persecutor Paul had probably been studying the stories about Jesus and the teachings of the early church in order to fight them. He also probably knew all the arguments the Christians presented in their case that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Now not only can he make the same arguments, but he can speak from personal experience as someone who has seen the living Christ. Undoubtedly what he had to say made a powerful impact on the people in the synagogue, and it must have encouraged the small band of Christians in Damascus to hear their persecutor preach.
You may stumble over the phrase "proving that Jesus is the Messiah" (9:22). Don't we accept Jesus as our Savior by faith, not by arguments? Didn't Jesus encourage believing over seeing? That's true; however, the text says that the Jews in Damascus were puzzled by Paul's preaching and arguing, but it doesn't say that any of them became Christians because of it. It only made them want to kill them.
Paul's fellow Jews in Damascus arrange for people to stay by the city gates to catch Paul and kill him. Word also gets out that the governor of Damascus has ordered Paul's arrest. Paul's enemies probably hoped to catch Paul in the process of running away and conveniently get rid of him. If anything, Paul is too brave. The other disciples urge him to run. One night they put Paul in a big basket and lower him by ropes through a window in the city wall. From there he makes his way to Jerusalem.
Arriving in Jerusalem, Paul tries to join the Christian community there. Understandably they are afraid of him and wonder whether he has really become a disciple. Barnabas, who always seems to be bringing people together whenever he appears, introduces Paul to the apostles and tells them what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus.
With the apostles' blessing, Paul continues to preach "boldly in the name of the Lord." Some of his fellow Jews consider his preaching to be such a threat that again they try to kill him. In the end Paul has to leave and, escorted by some fellow believers, he sets off through Caesarea to go back to his hometown of Tarsus.
How did Paul’s training and personality help prepare him for his abrupt change from a persecutor to a preacher?
How did he feel going over the wall in that big basket?
Look up Barnabas in a concordance to trace his reconciling activities in Acts.
It would be easy to overly romanticize this story of Paul’s escape with your preschoolers, who love superheroes. Keep your focus on Paul’s eagerness to tell others about Jesus—and on Jesus’ love for Paul and the amazing way Jesus enabled Paul to become a messenger of the gospel.
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