Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Acts 9:10-19 - What kind of man was Ananias?

The visit of Jesus to Ananias is not a monologue but a dialogue. Jesus and his disciple engage in discussion. What features can be identified in the contribution of Ananias on this occasion?
First, we can see his alertness to the visit of Jesus. The response to the divine call was immediate because he realised that Jesus was speaking to him in the vision. I have no idea whether or not Jesus speaks in visions today, although contrary to many claims made today it is worth noting that nothing unusual is depicted of Jesus when he appeared to Ananias.
In any case, I suspect that before Jesus would use an extraordinary means of contact he will use the ordinary ones. If we are not alert to his voice in his Word or in church services, it is doubtful if he will speak to us in more spectacular ways. What is important for us is to assess how alert we are to the voice of Jesus in the means of grace. For example, when we read the Bible today, did we react to it as the voice of Jesus addressing us? If not, we are not marked by alertness.
Second, we can see in Ananias the feature of availability. His response is straightforward: ‘Here I am, Lord.’ Ananias is a soldier reporting for duty and a servant ready to perform his master’s bidding. He does not respond with an attitude of resentment because he has been interrupted. From a human point of view, the absence of this feature of availability is a reason why progress in the Lord’s kingdom is small. Availability reveals our priorities because we are always available for the things that are important to us.
Third, Ananias admitted absence of understanding. It is obvious that the request the Lord Jesus gave to him had the effect of puzzling him. We know that his bewilderment was based on lack of precise information regarding the great change in Saul’s heart. Still it is useful for us to note that Ananias freely expressed his confusion to Jesus. His ignorance did not cause him to become stoical, nor did it cause him to assume that he could not obtain further details. Therefore he freely expressed his concern to the Lord, and because he did so he received the encouragement that he needed. Jesus informed Ananias that Saul would play a very important role in the future development of the Saviour’s kingdom. The obvious lesson is that information and direction are given by Jesus to those who ask him for such details.
Fourth, Ananias displayed alacrity in his obedience. Once Jesus had given him encouragement by giving assurance of what would happen to him, Ananias rushed to where Saul of Tarsus was living. Clearly, by going immediately, Ananias brought help to Saul and joy to himself. And it may have been a very strong influence on Judas in whose house Paul was, because we don’t know if Judas was a believer – he may have been an innkeeper. Prompt obedience is always the best path to spiritual prosperity. Delay in obedience is equivalent to deprivation of blessings.

Fifth, Ananias was affectionate when he met Saul (remember Saul had left for Damascus to arrest Ananias and the other disciples). Ananias’ first action was to touch the blind Saul and his first words to Saul were ‘Brother Saul’. First impressions are very important. Ananias could have waited for Saul to confess his wrong attitudes. If he had done so and then touched Saul and spoken to him, it would have been a display of love – but it would not be as effective as what he actually did and said. Disciples of Jesus, by definition, are those who express affection for one another. After all, as the words of Ananias declare, disciples belong to the same family. Gracious gestures and loving words reveal the state of our hearts. Ananias’ heart was full of joy at the amazing grace of Jesus revealed in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

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