and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"Acts 9:4(NASB)
Who could have been a more deeply religious man than Saul of Tarsus? And yet his fervent zeal was counter to the will of God. Who could have been a more passionate hater of Jesus of Nazareth than this exemplary Pharisee? Yet he became Christ's most ardent admirer, worshipping the Lord Jesus in grateful reverence and submitting to the Nazarene as His bond-servant.
Paul had played havoc with the Church, entering into homes where he dragged both men and women to jail. He was influential in Christian persecution in the early Church, causing many to scatter abroad - preaching the gospel of Christ as they fled. But the men and women that Paul abused and killed were members of Christ's own body. They were members of the Church, and in persecuting believers he was also persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ.
But as he approached the city of Damascus, Christ Himself halted Paul's journey and arrested his attention with a compelling question, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" The proud, Saul of Tarsus not only heard the piercing question from the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus, but he also saw a great and piercing light from heaven, which blinded his eyes and caused him to ask that all-important question, "Who art Thou Lord?" Who are You?
When he was challenged by Christ on his journey through life, Saul asked the right question, "Who are You, Lord?" Saul had believed that Jesus the Nazarene was long dead and buried. He was convinced that Christ's memory needed to be blotted out from the minds of His fool-hardy followers and removed from the auspicious record of Israel's history books. And Paul did everything in his power to stamp out the Word of Truth.
But when Saul asked that momentous question, his heart was open to receive the truth, that would change his life forever and influence millions more. This encounter was to be the single most significant event that changed the history of the Christian church. "I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting", was the staggering reply he heard from the heavenly vision. I am Jesus, and when you persecute my children, you are persecuting ME.
Paul was overwhelmed by the heavenly light that flashed all around him, which caused him to fall to the ground. This was a very personal experience, for he remembers hearing a voice speaking to him in the Hebrew language, saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads?" Saul was rocked to the core as he was confronted by the true nature of his offense - he was persecuting God! By persecuting the Church he was persecuting God.
Paul was stopped in his tracks. He listened, he heard, and he responded to Christ's reply and began to understand the shocking truth - that it was GOD, and not man that he was fighting. From that moment forward, Paul had to re-examine his preconceived notions about God. He had to reconsider the doctrines he had held dear and lay aside so much of the erroneous, Jewish practices, that exchanged the truth of God for man's developed traditions.
How like the times in which we live and how important that we not only ask the same question as Paul - whom God called to become His chosen servant, and who was given the office of Apostle to the Gentiles. How important that like Paul, we listen, hear, and respond to Christ's call in our own life. How important that we do not allow our own preconceived notions of salvation or acquired traditions to blind us to the truth.
The Lord will not come as a blinding light on the road to Damascus, but He certainly speaks in clear language within the pages of Holy Scripture. Let us, like Paul, be ardent admirers and reverent worshippers of the Lord Jesus, and let us soak all we do for the Lord in humble prayer, as we listen to His guiding voice in our hearts, praying, "Thy will not mine be done."
Loving Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see more of the Lord Jesus as did the apostle Paul. I pray that everything I say and do may be done for Your glory. Increase my knowledge and understanding of Your will for my life, and may I be careful not to exchange the truth of God's Word for man's developed traditions. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.
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