One of the most remarkable people of faith in the Bible is Ananias of Damascus. You might ask, “Who?” Well, he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. He wasn’t a leader, an Apostle, an evangelist or a deacon. He was a committed believer during the infancy of the church. The New Testament hadn’t been written yet, including the Gospels. Ananias was disciplined. He made time for God in prayer and was spiritually sensitive and had visions. Have you ever had a vision? Have you ever dismissed a vision as nonsense?
Ananias was not startled when he had his vision, and he was comfortable talking to God. Are you comfortable talking to God? This was not just a vision about a future event. This was a dialogue with God about an action He commissioned Ananias to take. Ananias is remarkable for many reasons:
- He was committed to spiritual disciplines
- He had spiritual visions
- He listened for God’s voice calling his name
- He was comfortable talking with God
- He listened to what God had to say and received specific tasks
- He was honest with God
- He trusted God, by believing what God was saying, even though it was dangerous and unbelievable
- He obeyed God, even though it was dangerous and unbelievable
- He was relatively anonymous after this miraculous encounter with Saul
I would like to expand on each point. Before Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians about praying without ceasing, Ananias had a prayer life. He was intimate with God and believed that God directed his steps. His response was natural, “Here I am, Lord.” Do you make yourself available to God? Do you have a prayer life? Do you desire greater intimacy with God? Do you allow God to direct your steps?
Ananias had spiritual visions. I believe as he spent in prayer, God visited him in a variety of ways. Ananias was not startled by the occurrence of this vision. Peter explained that Joel prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit on all flesh (not just on the prophets) and “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Have you sensed that God has poured out His Spirit in your life? Do you believe that these experiences may occur in your life?
Ananias expected God to call his name. When young Samuel in the Old Testament heard God’s voice, he thought it was the High Priest Eli calling his name. But this was not the case with Ananias. He was comfortable with the Lord calling to him. He knew Who was calling him and made time for Him. Has the Lord called you by name? Do you desire to more aware of God’s voice? Do you make time for the Lord?
Ananias was comfortable talking with the Lord. He made time for Him and had a conversation with Him. He wasn’t the only one doing the talking. They were friends. Jesus said this about His disciples, “…but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Do you consider yourself a friend with God? This recorded conversation is so natural and familiar.
Ananias listened, received remarkably detailed instructions and information, and expressed concern. If Luke is consistent in Chapter 9 of Acts, the Lord speaking to Ananias is Jesus. Jesus called Ananias and immediately gave him instructions and details about this situation, that he had no way of knowing. This detailed conversation is so inspiring to me. Not only did Jesus give Ananias instructions, but He explained why He was commanding Ananias to obey. Have you had intimate moments with Jesus who has given you details about a task He wants you to carry out?
Ananias was honest. “Lord, I have heard…” He mentioned to Jesus that Saul was harmful to the Church (which would have caused him concern) and had authority to arrest Christians. I think we can all agree that we are generally honest with God, probably to a fault. Do you find yourself complaining about why things aren’t working the way you want? Do you give God excuses why you can’t do something or obey? Honesty is important but so is listening and obeying. Jesus is Lord, thankfully, and His will is good.
Ananias trusted Jesus. He believed that it was God Who was asking him to do something. He belived that Saul was really blind, vulnerable (non-threatening) and was expecting him. Ananias believed that Judas had a home on a particular street into which he would be welcomed. He was not only told about this future encounter, he was told about Saul’s encounter with Jesus while traveling to Damascus. The level of detail revealed by Jesus is mind-blowing to me. Perhaps you have been given some detailed instructions and information that you would not normally know, and God is asking you to obey. Respond like Ananias.
Ananias was obedient. After expressing his concern, Ananias was given additonal information by Jesus to give him more confidence to obey. Saul was a chosen vessel, who would be a witness for Jesus before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. And he was told that Saul would suffer for the name of Jesus. Can you imagine Jesus giving you detail about someone who God has chosen to fulfill a ministry and you are supposed to assist that person. Delight to do God’s will. Luke wrote, “And Ananias went his way…” Even after the concerns that Ananias expressed, he obeyed. Ananias was welcomed into the home of Judas, he did find Saul blind, vulnerable, and waiting for him. He did lay hands on Saul and pray for him. Saul did receive his sight and the Holy Spirit, and Ananias baptized him. Remarkable.
This narrative took place before Luke joined Paul in ministry. Paul’s testimony was quite well known, since Luke records his testimony in Chapters 9, 22, and 26. There is no mention of Ananias again, but his commitment to Jesus Christ, his intimacy with Him, and his courage to obey Jesus Christ is remarkable. Paul referred to Ananias as “a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there…”
Remember, Ananias was a disciple like you and I. He was prayerful, and expected the Lord to meet with him, lead him, and use him. I pray that you would live the same kind of remarkable life, like Ananias.