And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,Acts 9:5(NASB)
Saul of Tarsus was a deeply religious man and passionate about his service to God and yet his work for God was in direct opposition to God. Despite Saul's fervent zeal to work the works of God, he was suddenly brought face to face with the reality of Who God was - and it demolished all his preconceived understanding about God and shattered his long-held, pious religiosity.
Saul of Tarsus was a great man who was held in high esteem by Jew and Gentile alike. He was not only a Hebrew of the Hebrews from the stock of the faithful tribe of Benjamin; a natural-born citizen of Rome and an outstanding religious scholar, who was more zealous for God that all his peers.. but as to the righteousness which is outlined in the Law of Moses.. this man was blameless - faultless in the eyes of man and righteous in his own self-inflated opinion.
And having played havoc with the Christian Church in Jerusalem, who had been mercilessly slain, scattered, tyrannised and tormented.. Saul requested authority from Israel's highest court in the land to indiscriminately hunt down all Christian men and women throughout the known world - in order to eradicate all knowledge of the Christian faith and remove from the minds of humanity all remembrance, of the One.. Who had become known as Jesus of Nazareth.
It was as Saul, who was breathing out threats and murder in pursuing his objective.. when he was abruptly halted in his tracks on the road to Damascus by a blinding light. Sail alone heard the voice of the risen, ascended and glorified Lord Jesus, Who challenged him with an arresting question: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Saul responded to this supernatural vision with the only possible counter-question: Who art Thou - Lord? Who are You - LORD? Saul knew that this heavenly visitation was from God, Whom he thought he was serving. But the answer he received must have shocked his piety and deflated his bubble of importance - as he alone heard the shattering reply that would change his life forever: I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. I Am Jesus. I AM - Jesus. I AM. And you are persecuting ME.
The message of the cross is that Christ died and rose again so that all who believe on His name would not perish but have everlasting life - and those that believe in Him are united together with Christ and placed into the body of Christ. We become one with Him.. We are positioned in Him. We are placed in union with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are the Body of Christ and we are identified with Him - and He with us.
And when the members of Christ's body are persecuted for righteousness sake the sober truth is that Christ, the eternal Son of God is also being persecuted - for we are one with HIM and He is one with US - we are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. When members of the Christian Church are being tyrannised and tormented, slandered and victimised, the sober truth is that Jesus of Nazareth - the incarnate Son of God is also being tyrannised, tormented, slandered and victimised.
Saul of Tarsus was indeed a deeply religious man who was passionate about his service to God but he discovered on that road to Damascus.. that he was working in direct opposition to the Lord his God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He learned that Jesus was alive and the claims of His resurrection were true! Suddenly the words of John the Baptist became a reality to this proud, religious Jew. REPENT.. turn from your former religiosity. Repent of your self-righteousness and work the works of God - and this is the work of God that you believe on God, and that you also believe on HIM Whom God has sent - i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the incarnate Christ, the despised Nazarene - Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.
Saul of Tarsus learned that by persecuting the followers of Jesus He was persecuting the LORD Himself. The pain and suffering he was inflicting upon members of Christ's Body on earth, were felt by the Lord Jesus Himself.. the true and living God, Who is the Head of the Body - in heaven.
Saul discovered that in his zeal to serve God his own way, he had been persecuting the promised Messiah Who is the only way to God. He learned that his self-righteous works.. of which he was so proud, were nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of his holy God. How important that like Saul we are prepared to ask that important question: Who Are You Lord?.. but how nescessary that we also take note of the answer - which can only be found in the Word of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Saul of Tarsus who was a man who recognised Who Christ truly was. I pray that if I have any false perceptions of Who You are, or if I am going down the path of religiosity or self-righteousness that You would identify my faults and bring me to a more intimate understanding of Who You are.. so that I may worship You in spirit and in truth - in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.