Although this passage contains the most famous conversion story in history and, at first glance, it could be taken that Saul turns from murderous intent and hatred to following Jesus in a second, when we study it more closely we can recognise that Saul-later to be called Paul-is a man whose resolve is crumbling. We have been told that he was present, possibly in a supervisory role, at the stoning of Stephen (remember he was the golden boy of the Pharisees) and the beauty and Godliness which Stephen demonstrated as he died would have been etched into his mind. In attempting to remove these insistent concerns from his mind, Saul plunges even deeper into the most violent action possible, attacking the Christians in Jerusalem-who faced persecution serenely-and then seeking to hunt down those who had fled to places such as Damascus. It was impossible for him to continue much longer, because he was destroying himself and his own hunger for God as he committed these acts.
Saul had to get permission from the Sanhedrin to go to Damascus to forcibly return Christians there: the authority of the Jewish religious leaders extend to wherever Jews could be living. However, having been granted permission, there was a journey of 140 miles-taking around a week on foot-and, being a Pharisee, it was unthought of that he should mix with the Sanhedrin police force who accompanied him: so he walked alone and had more time to think!
In the moments when he drew near to Damascus, the risen Christ appeared to him and his life was completely changed! The person who had intended to enter the city like an avenging fury was led by the hand, blind, helpless and broken.
There are many characters in this book who it is easy to pass over and Ananias is one. However, his heroic response to God's message to him was one of the key moments in this record of the Early Church. Ananias knew about Saul and what he had come to do, but on meeting him called him a 'brother'. In Christ, the bitterest of enemies can become not only friends but brothers and sisters!