25 but his disciples took him by night
and let him down through an opening in the wall,
lowering him in a basket.
Saul has had a conversion from persecuting early believers in Jesus to becoming a follower. He could not be quiet but immediately began talking about his change of faith. Saul was a known person. Saul was known for his hatred but also for his training as a Pharisee. He knew what he was talking about. So as we can imagine feathers got ruffled. Often television evangelists present Christianity as a “try it, you’ll like it” experience. Faith can lead to health, wealth, and prosperity – or perhaps popularity. In Saul’s case, the persecutor became the persecuted! Not every body was ready to jump on Saul’s band wagon and believe the change was genuine. Soon plans were being made to kill Saul. His friends had to get him out of Damascus. They lowered him down through a hole in the wall – in a basket. Saul who entered Damascus on a horse with a crew of guards left at night, secretly being hidden in a basket.
Pictures are drawn about this scene and various sorts of baskets are used. I’ve seen Saul sitting in a large fruit basket more like a platter. I’ve seen him peeking out of a laundry basket. The basket is what conceals and carries Saul to safety. So what are the baskets in our lives that protect us from danger and persecution? We are taught as children to say when we are taunted and teased, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never harm me.” As we get older, we quickly learn that words hurt. We remember cutting remarks, unwanted labels, and jeering with pain. Saul did nothing wrong but in his young enthusiasm he offended people.
I note that Saul’s friends, his followers, protected him. Friends put him in a basket, a bubble of their love, and helped him escape. Perhaps a question today is to reflect if I am a friend who is true when the times get rough or am I a fair-weather friend? Do I join the crowd to spread gossip or do I defend my friends? Saul goes to Jerusalem and people there too are dubious of his conversion. But Barnabas, the encourager, the man from the end of chapter 4 who sold his field to help the new believes again steps up to encourage a young believer Saul and takes Saul’s side before the leadership in Jerusalem. Saul finds a haven of friendship with Barnabas but again creates enemies. This time he has to flee back to his home town, Tarsus.
Saul is having a rough time as a new believer. Somehow we think that because we are at peace with God, life should be easy and God should prepare the way for us but often that is not true. Troubles do not mean we are wrong nor that God does not love us and care. Saul is learning to talk about his faith and to preach. Ponder some of the lessons you many have learned in hard times and ponder who were the people that let you down in a basket to protect you. Thank God for those lessons and those friends.