“Why are you persecuting me?”
Most people have heard and read of the dramatic conversion of the Apostle Paul. Acts chapter 8 starts by telling us that Paul “approved of” the “execution” of Stephen and how he then “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (verses 1,3).
Chapter 9 starts by telling us that Saul (as he was then called) “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” (verses 1,2). The account of what happened just before he arrived at Damascus is well known, even to those who do not read their Bibles regularly: “suddenly a light from heaven flashed 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’” (verses 3-5).
We must make sure we see the significance of how Jesus phrased his question, he did not say why are you persecuting those who believe in me, but “why are you persecuting ME?”. True believers are “in Christ” and he is in them! realise what that means! Paul told the Corinthians, “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price … your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). True believers represent Christ, just as Christ represented God (John 14:9-11).
Later this week we will read how Paul told the people of Athens “they should seek God … he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (17:27,28). In writing to the Hebrews, the point is made that “he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’” (13:5).
Christ was ‘in’ those Paul had been persecuting. Are we seeking God, have we established an intimate relationship with him? Paul in writing to the Romans challenged them as to what their lives should be like “if Christ is in you …” (8:10). Have we done what Paul did after he received back his sight? “Something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus …” (verses 18,19).
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