Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week, as part of our series on the identity of Jesus, we’re going to study the story of Saul, a man whose life changed dramatically when he met Jesus.
After the events of that first Easter, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus’ followers began to spread the news, speaking and preaching in the streets, temples and synagogues. This was, in itself, a sign that following Jesus changes people. These guys were fishermen before, and had just abandoned their friend and teacher at the moment he was executed. Now, they are boldly announcing controversial and risky truths to the world.
This was a challenge to the religious establishment, particularly a group called the Pharisees. One was named Saul, and here’s his story of transformation:
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. 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. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9 ESV)
This is a story of dramatic transformation. Saul began this story with a plan to track down and murder Christians, and permission to do it. He ends the story as a Christian himself, rendered helpless by the risen Jesus he intended to suppress.
Saul seems to have been genuinely disrupted. He asks, “Who are you, Lord”? The term lord can refer simply to a person of superior standing; he may not even have realized what happened, or who was speaking.
Imagine his surprise, when Jesus revealed himself. He had been so wrong – his love of God so misdirected. He had so much to repent of – so much to apologize for – and so many people to forgive him.
It’s interesting that god made Saul wait. We can only imagine what he’d be thinking while he sat there with no sight, trying to figure out where he went wrong. God gave him time to think!
To mark the occasion, God even game him a new name – Paul. He’s the one who wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else with the various letters to churches in each city. Churches that he started, and still pastored from a distance.
Question: What signs of transformation do you see in this story about Saul? Do any parallel your life, or those you know?