‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.’
‘As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you Lord?” Saul asked.’ “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”, he replied, “Now get up and go into the city where you will be told what you must do.”
‘The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.’
This is often referred to as the moment of Saul’s conversion. His ‘road to Damascus’ moment.
He was converted at this point. But converted to what? A wreck of a man unable to drink, eat, or see.
Why did Saul receive such a frankly violent revelation of Christ? An experience powerful enough to drop him to the floor and render him harmless and totally defenceless. In seconds he has gone from being a zealous Pharisee priest on a mission to obliterate this new sect of the followers of Jesus, and the next moment he’s been crushingly overwhelmed by a full on and extremely rare revelation of Christ as God in a visual and auditory and physical way.
He has seen and heard and felt. And it wasn’t a case of ‘This is my Son in whom I am well pleased’. It was a case of “I am God Jesus and you are persecuting me.” And a set of instructions, to get up, and go into Damascus, where he will be told what to do.
There’s no doubt who is in charge. It makes Sauls letters of authority from the high priest seem like an embarrassment. Sauls got a handful of letters, and he just came up against the living Word of God.
I wonder if he laughed about that, some years later. It is funny.
Extract from All People Must Know