For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Ananias, the disciple from Damascus, appears just once in the whole Bible, when he is sent by the Lord to visit Saul. He is never mentioned again. This suggests that he was a believer with a low profile, who was probably neither an apostle, nor a prophet; but only a disciple.
However, the figure of Ananias has a tremendous significance in the New Testament. He appears at the moment when Paul is reached out to by God's hand, when his orthodox Judaism is demolished, and he is brought to faith in the Son of God.
When the Lord appeared to Saul on the road, He speaks Paul, but it was not enough. He reveals part of His will to Saul, but not His complete will. The Lord orders Saul to go into the city, because it was there that he would be told what to do. (Acts 9:6). And the one charged with telling him what to do is in fact Ananias. The story of Acts chapter 9 tells us that Ananias also prayed for him so that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit, and probably even baptised him.
Ananias was the instrument used to show Paul the church in its local, practical and tangible aspect. The church, as the body of Christ. He is the brother who is close by; the one who, in key moments, represents Christ, speaks on His behalf and acts for Him in our favour.
The Christian life is not only a life of vertical relationships in which we maintain a beautiful communion with the Head who is in the heavens. It is also a life of horizontal relationships that we enjoy with the brothers and sisters in the local church. God will not always speak to us from above; often He will speak to us from around us, through some of His sons and daughters.
A life of vertical relationships with God is beautiful but insufficient; a life of communion with Christ's Body completes God's provision for walking amid the world. Often direction, provision and comfort are granted to us through an Ananias who we didn't know, who doesn't have any obvious importance, but who God uses effectively.
It is a great grace to have an Ananias in our Christian walk. They are everywhere, as though waiting for the moment to appear on the scene to extend their hand to us. They are not pretentious, nor do they demand payment for their services. They have a generous heart like that of Christ's; their honour is to serve the Master, assisting a poor, blind, confused and bewildered Saul. Who has not encountered one such as this in the many winding paths of their life? Who has not been saved at some time by that delicate and firm hand?
The great Saul's needs the small Ananias'. The mountains must fall, and the valleys must be lifted up. They should be at the same height, experiencing both humility and honour, respectively; so that nobody in Christ's body looks down upon another, nor anybody looks up at a brother. The figure of Ananias speaks to us of Christ's Body, in its wonderful simplicity and in its wisdom, in its balance and in its abundance.