A few weeks ago I worked my way through Leonard Sweet’s recently published book on preaching called “Giving Blood.” In it he advocates for semiotic preaching that more or less exegetes the metaphors in the text and uses them to connect with the audience.
Last week and today I spent much time with Saul’s Conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. I tried to utilize what Sweet taught me. Surprisingly I found tons of great metaphors to work with and am awed at the way the narrative weaves together.
As always the temptation is to read too much into certain words but in the end I think picking out metaphors instead of historical analysis yields a more Spirit filled time.
Below is a list of the ironies and metaphors in the text. Unfortunately you have to wait awhile to see how I weave some of these into a sermon because I am not preaching on Acts 9 until mid July.
You can feel free to add others or use these in your own devotions or sermons or other works.
Saul is the on the way to persecute “the way” and ends up joining the way.
Saul is carrying a letter from the Lord’s representative (the Chief Priest) that gives him permission to persecute the Lord.
The voice from heaven puts Paul in the ground.
Saul the “enlightened” Pharisee is blinded by the true light.
Saul is leading an entourage and ends up being led by the entourage.
Jesus tells Saul to “resurrect”. Later Jesus tells the same thing to Ananias. Bonus Irony: although Saul was killing Christians, he was actually the dead one.
In addition Saul doesn’t “rise” or “resurrect” until Ananias lays hand on him.
The light flashed around Saul. It wasn’t a spotlight like the pictures we show kids. It was more like fireworks from heaven or firecrackers.
The scales falling out of his eyes are the same flakes used to describe leprosy and other such illnesses. So Saul was diseased. A life of death is a life of disease. Saul the put together, healthy man ends up diseased by God (and healed by God too).
God tells Ananias that Saul is a “chosen vessel” which is the same terminology Paul uses in 2 Corinthians to call himself a “cracked vessel.”
Closing with a devotional thought, we are all cracked vessels suffering for the kingdom. When we forget that we turn back into Saul the Persecutor and metaphorically journey back to Jerusalem to live our lives of quiet desperation.