There was a task needing to be done. Someone was needed to do it. The master looked for someone. He found his man ready, willing, faithful. That man was Ananias. He was the right man in the right place at the right time; and God used him. The outcome was incalculable blessing.
Ananias is a most inspiring pattern of… godliness. To all those believers who feel that there is a disappointing sense of ordinariness about their life and surroundings, this man, Ananias, is a silver starlight of encouragement. He is mentioned only twice in the New Testament, in the ninth and twenty-second chapters of the Acts of the Apostles; and even in those two places he is only introduced in a rather incidental way.
Look, then, for a few moments, at this man Ananias, and see in him a sparkling gem of… discipleship.
We are told three things about him. First, he is simply called “a certain disciple“. He was neither an apostle nor a great preacher; nor does he appear to have been a leader or an official or even an outstanding personality. Likely enough we should never have heard anything about him had it not been for his figuring in Saul’s conversion. How heartening to know that God knew all about him! No depth of obscurity can hide us from His gracious gaze. “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.” Ananias is like some unknown star which for a brief spell reveals itself to the eye of the telescope and then forever disappears again. He was just an ordinary, humble disciple, who evidently sought to glorify Jesus by a consecrated life amid the unexciting usualness of customary Damascus ways and doings.
Second, we are told that he was “a devout man according to the law” (Acts 22:12). That is saying a good deal. See here his devotion to principle. He was so honest and religiously particular that he could endure the microscope where perhaps others of a more imposing outward profession would wince. He was principled to the last detail.
Third, Ananias had “a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there.” It is no small thing to have our character praised by those who strongly differ from us. Such a reputation as Ananias had is not gained in five minutes or nine days. It is evident that he was thoroughly well known in Damascus. He had been there a long while and was probably a native of the place. He was thought well of by those with whom he lived and worked and transacted business, and that, not for a week or two only, but month after month. Such men are grand sermons.
But look now at Ananias’s willingness. Think you it was an easy thing which the Master set his servant to do when he said, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus?” Be under no such impression… Was not Saul the most virulent and notorious oppressor of the Christians in all Judea? Had he not come to Damascus, even at this very time, on a blood-curdling excursion of anti-Christian persecution? Could such an Ethiopian ever change his skin? But the Lord said to him, “Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel; for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Without further demur, “Ananias went his way.” He willingly obeyed!
Now see Ananias’s faithfulness. In the obedience of Ananias there shines… loyalty… and humility. His… love is seen in his attitude towards Saul. He goes in to the arch-persecutor with the eloquently affectionate greeting, “Brother Saul!” Moreover, “he put his hands on him” — a very gracious act, for, whereas Saul had come to lay the hand of violence on Ananias, Ananias now lays the gentle hand of brotherliness on Saul! There is no trace of resentment in the entire demeanor of Ananias.
But if his Christian love is revealed in his attitude towards Saul, his loyalty is seen in his attitude towards his Lord. His first word, after saluting Saul is, “The Lord, even Jesus… hath sent me.” Ananias would not let his expression of brotherliness toward Saul cause him to shrink from affirming the lordship of Jesus, even though that was the very thing against which Saul had been so madly fighting. So, after saying, “Brother Saul,” he immediately proceeds, “The Lord, even Jesus… hath sent me!”
See here, also, this good man’s humility. He did not intrude himself into his message. The very opposite was the case. His only reference to himself was the only one that was needful, “The Lord, even Jesus… hath sent me.” He did not start explaining who or what he was. He was content to be the faithful anonymous messenger of his Master.
Admire, then, the exemplary faithfulness of Ananias; his Christian love, loyalty, lowliness.
This was the man God used; ready, willing, faithful! Yet just an ordinary, humble, obscure working man… Our Lord has a special pleasure, as he himself has said, in those of his servants who are “faithful over a few things.”
J. Sidlow Baxter