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The Signs and Wonders of Easter Part 2: Tamed Tongues and Opened Eyes!

The Signs and Wonders of Easter Part 2: Tamed Tongues and Opened Eyes!

Text: Acts 9:1-22

3 Easter, C

12Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. During this season of Easter we are spending time in the readings from Acts where we are presented with signs and wonders as a common occurrence. These Easter miracles were happening frequently enough for people to come to expect them. And we should still! Today we focus on the Easter signs and wonders of Opened Eyes and Tamed Tongues! And who better to show us this miracle in action than Saul of Tarsus.

1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. You know the kind … a loud mouthed bully who likes to bellow about things they just don’t understand. Not that they are stupid, mind you, and maybe that makes it worse. But smart in one area does not mean smart in all areas. But you’ll never convince them of that. Such is Saul of Tarsus.

A Jew among Jews, a Pharisee of Pharisees. A very smart religious fellow who’s eyes are blinded to God and who’s tongue is full of only hatred and evil. Breathing threats and murder. Unwilling to see the humanity of men women or children who follow the way. All he sees are enemies to be destroyed. That is, until a great sign and wonder occurs, and Saul is a changed man. A new man. A Christian man named Paul defending Christ with as much zeal as he once persecuted Him and all His followers. 20And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”

When we first encounter Saul, he is too smart for his own good. He cannot see what is right in front of his own eyes. 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting … But by the end of this story not only will his eyes be finally and truly opened to the glory of Christ, risen and victorious, but his once vile tongue (breathing threats and murder) will be tamed and put to a much better use. 20And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

So how does it all happen? How does Saul the murderous enemy of Christ and His church, become Paul the greatest and long-suffering defender of the Holy Christian Faith? Through the wonder of Easter. He meets the once-dead-but-now-alive-again Christ. And in that meeting, full of signs and wonders, lives are never left the same!

3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” And with those few short words the old Saul, enemy number one of the church, dies, as every sinner must in the presence of the most holy God. And now nothing will ever be the same for him, nor for the church. Note again, like last week’s episode with Peter, the similarities to the Easter account of Jesus. Saul is struck down around noon (the very same time Jesus was put on the cross). But the similarities don’t end there: 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Note too, how he is so helpless afterward (almost as if he were dead) that he must be led around and goes without food or water for three days. But at the end of that three day rest He will rise again at the urging of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the Gospel.

17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;

An Easter miracle. Behold the signs and wonders. Is this not the man who made havoc in Jerusalem? Is he not the one come to persecute the believers? No. Not anymore! For He has met the living Christ. And now his eyes are opened and his tongue can only proclaim. That Jesus is the Son of God and He is risen from the dead indeed! And so the Easter miracle goes in the lives of each and every saint of God. Blind, Dead, Enemies of God are met by the living and victorious Christ and they are brought from death to life. The scales are removed and their eyes are opened to the wonderful truth before them. They are welcomed by the forgiving arms of Jesus, held by the nail-scared hands, and called sons and daughters of the King of Kings.

And this unconditional conversion. This unmerited grace and kindness. This heavenly acceptance for those who deserve only punishment and hostility leads to another wonder to behold. The once-enemies of God, those who once fought to see Him suffer, now having been given everything in the Christ they have met face-to-face … these new men and women are now willing to suffer all for the sake of Jesus and His call to welcome everyone with love and mercy. 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

When God converts an enemy (a category that includes us all), his forgiveness makes brothers of us all, members of his family. We may not understand the choices God makes for his vessels, nevertheless, the choices are God’s. And God chose not only Saul, but you too. He met you in Holy Baptism. He called you in His Gospel promise. He gives you the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and tame your tongue. And now you see Jesus and His undying love for you. And now we speak Jesus and His unfailing love for every lost soul and enemy of the cross. Now let us suffer all for Jesus, what loss is it to be counted as one with our Lord? For even if it means death one day, we see the truth ... Christ is Risen! He is risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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