Luke turns from stories of Philip’s preaching successes back to the persecution in Jerusalem. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem”(Acts 9:1-2). Saul is aware that many of the Christians have fled the city and is seeking to expand the persecution to Damascus. He is determined to snuff out the movement. Luke specifically mentions “men or women,” showing that Saul is not aiming at a particular person but whomever he can find.
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’”(Acts 9:3-5). These verses describe the most significant event of Saul’s life. He sees a bright light and hears an accusing voice. “Why are you persecuting me?” seems to confuse him. Yet these words are ones he will never forget: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”(see also Acts 22:8, 26:15). Suddenly Saul realizes that Jesus is real—and alive—and an exalted and glorified being. Suddenly Saul sees that he’s been doing it all wrong.
What intrigues me about this statement is Saul never actually persecutes Jesus. Saul persecutes Jesus’ people. But what we do to Jesus’ people—neglect, harm, and discouragement or blessing, help, and love—we do to him.
One thing to think about: Would I treat my brothers and sisters differently if I remembered that Jesus takes their treatment personally?
One thing to pray for: A heart to receive rebuke from Jesus
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