Reflections: January 25, 2021
The Conversion of St. Paul
By Jacob Ehrhard
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Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:18b–19)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul's conversion was miraculous. From persecuting God and His people to becoming Christianity's most zealous missionary, history has rarely seen anyone do a 180 like Paul. The story of his conversion is no less miraculous: a bright light, Jesus appearing out of nowhere, scaly eyes that were once blind, but now they see.
What's your conversion story? In some churches, a conversion story is necessary to be an authentic Christian. Even if you've been going to church since you were in diapers, you're expected to give a testimony of how your life made a 180-degree turnaround because of Jesus' miraculous intervention. The problem is, few if any of us have stories that are even close to Paul's.
But there is another miracle that often is overlooked in the conversion of Paul. It's not bright and flashy. In fact, you can only really notice it when the scales fall from your eyes.
"Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened." Paul's conversion was not completed on the road to Damascus, but in the house of Ananias. The miracle that often goes unnoticed is that Paul was baptized. With the water came the gift of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, new birth--and new sight.
The same miraculous conversion also happened to you. With the water of your Baptism, you received the gift of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, new birth--and new sight. The Spirit drops the scales from your eyes so you can see Jesus just as clearly as if you were riding a donkey on the road to Damascus. This Jesus, though, is not shining with glory and terror, but with the glory of His resurrection.
So rise, remember your Baptism, and take some food from Jesus' altar so you are strengthened. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Praise for the light from heaven And for the voice of awe; Praise for the glorious vision The persecutor saw. O Lord, for Paul's conversion, We bless Your name today; Come shine within our darkness, And guide us on our way. ("By All Your Saints in Warfare" LSB 517, st.12)
-Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is the pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL
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