Getting what you wish for
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
- Acts 9:10
Be careful what you wish for when we talk about the resurrection.
Many of us come off of fresh readings and reflections on the Easter story and wish that Jesus would just appear to us directly. We’d like to have an experience with him or vision of him. We think it would be sweet or wonderful or wipe our doubts away.
Perhaps Ananias longed for an encounter with the risen Lord. Well, he got one.
Ananias was a follower of Jesus who, most likely, had fled to Damascus after the persecutions had started rolling out in Jerusalem. Stephen was stoned. People were being arrested. And the church scattered.
Seeing Jesus in Damascus would have probably brought some comfort to Ananias. Although he had left Jerusalem, he hadn’t left Jesus in Jerusalem. God’s desire to be present with his people even when they’re refugees and living in exile is a recurrent theme in the story of the Bible. And it would almost certainly have been meaningful for Ananias to have such a personal encounter with Jesus in this new place.
But Jesus didn’t come to Ananias with the sole intention of offering him comfort. In fact, every one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance are directly connected with his mission to make disciples and bring the shalom of God to bear on the world. Ananias was no exception.
This encounter with Jesus would challenge Ananias to his very core. He would be forced to put his life on the line if he wanted to continue to follow and obey his risen Lord. Ananias would need all the courage he could muster for this moment.
When have you experienced the closeness or presence of God? How do you think your willingness / interest in following God influences your encounters with him? What sort of relationship would you like to have with God?