“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” (Acts 9:13+14/KJV).
Ananias to me was an amazing man. We read about him in only less than ten verses in the New Testament. Yet his obedience to the voice of God had a vital impact on the subsequent history of the community of believers in Jesus.
Saul of Tarsus had become known as a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He had set out to Damascus to captivate all them he would find that follow this new faith.
Seeking to meet Saul of Tarsus could be nothing less than saying: “Here I am, please put me to prison and maybe also mistreat me.” Yet he was called by God to go and find Saul of Tarsus.
We don’t learn anything about who Ananias was. We are only told he was a disciple of Jesus and living at Damascus.
Quite obviously he really deserves being called a disciple. He already had learnt how to deny himself and follow Jesus. (Cf. Matthew 16:24).
He was not governed by fear. He was not driven by resentment against the persecutors of his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.
There may be other people trying to impress by claiming they had seen a vision from God. Some might try to ensure they are admired by other Christians telling them God had spoken to them in that way. Yet Ananias was prepared to hear from God even when obeying could imply real danger for him and perhaps for other believers too.
Ananias had learned to believe and to trust God’s voice. Others could have discarded this vision as weird phantasm or perhaps even as a temptation from the devil that might bring about real difficulties. (To learn more about the guidance Ananias had received, please cf. Acts 9:10-16)
Obviously, Ananias was a man of faith and of love. Love “thinketh no evil”. He knew about all the “evil” Saul of Tarsus had done to Christian believers. He frankly told God about this. Yet he chose not to be governed by a record of wrongs when thinking of Saul. He was ready even to go and to pray for this man laying his hands on him.
Without Ananias, there might never have been an apostle Paul (later Saul of Tarsus was called Paul). More than half of the book of Acts is a record of Paul’s missionary journeys. In the New Testament, we find more epistles written by Paul than of any other apostle.
Through the apostle Paul, the good news of Jesus reached many gentile people outside the Jewish country. The Christian church would never have been what it became without Paul.
Paul was prayed for by an otherwise unknown disciple of Jesus called Ananias. Ananias was prepared to go and to find Saul of Tarsus. This led to Saul being baptised. Right away after that Saul started to preach Jesus Christ in the synagogues at Damascus.