So, Yeshua appears to Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) on the road to Damascus. This is the first step we see in a series of events wherein Sha’ul, one of the greatest evangelists in the history of the world is ‘captured,’ and turned toward the Messiah.
Acts 9:1-20 records the amazing set of events in the first several days. Among those events is recorded the story of Hananyah, the one to whom Yeshua appears, sending him to pray that Sha’ul of Tarsus receive his sight.
Before we read the story, I have to ask you, if you were about to assign someone to meet with Rav Sha’ul, the one you have selected to be the greatest emissary in the history of the world, what qualifications would you have for this mentor? Would you select a mentor that was confused or not walking properly? Would you select a mentor that didn’t know what you wanted? Or, would you select a mentor that was believing and acting rightly?
I would bet, and it would be a very safe bet, that Yeshua chose a mentor that knew the heart of Messiah intimately and knew exactly what the walk of righteousness should look like. After all, Hananyah is going to be a major influence for the initial phase of Rav Sha’ul’s transition from his previous beliefs to his new found belief in Messiah and what that entailed.
Yeshua chose Hananyah, or as some transliterations spell it, Ananias.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen [e]in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your [f]saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen [g]instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.
Notice a couple things:
- Hananyah is a disciple of Yeshua.
- Yeshua appears to him in a vision and they have a conversation.
- It is through Hananyah that Rav Sha’ul receives his sight.
- It is through Hananyah that Rav Sha’ul receives the Ruach/Holy Spirit, and very likely baptism, before he ate.
So why is this significant?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
Rav Sha’ul later gives us an important detail about the qualification of Hananyah,
12 “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And [a]at that very time I looked up at him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an [b]utterance from His mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
Did you catch that? Hananyah was a) devout according to the Torah! and b) well spoken of by the Jews.
The Jews would NOT have spoken well of one who was not strictly Torah observant! But, more significantly, we are explicitly told that he was ‘devout by the standard of the Law, or Torah!’
We asked the question, ‘Who baptized the Apostle Paul?’ While the text does not directly answer the question, I think we can easily surmise that Hananyah, the one who Yeshua sent to return Sha’ul’s sight and impart the Holy Spirit was also the likely person who baptized and mentored him in his early days.
We should expect no less!! Yeshua was sinless, according to the Torah, and we are to ‘walk as He walked.’ Rav Sha’ul would later testify of himself that he ‘committed NO offense against the Law of the Jews, or against the Temple, or against Caesar.’
Now, what was that your pastor was saying about ‘Torah observance is denial of the Messiah?’ I think Yeshua’s opinion would be contrary to your church’s man-made doctrine.
To understand a bit more about this, consider ‘What was the Apostle Paul’s example?‘