We use the same mouth to speak a variety of messages. We speak love, anger, disappointment, fear, warning, concern … and many other messages. We are able to speak messages in anger, fear, hatred and many other emotions. Few of us are able to speak different messages from the platform of love. Each time Jesus spoke, even when displaying righteous anger, it was in love. You see, His ministry, past, present and future is driven by His Rescue Plan. Whether he calls, rebukes, encourages or warns, it is done in love. Our reading continues:
Ac 9:4 and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 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. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
1) Hearing the voice of Jesus. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” At that crucial moment in Genesis 22:11, when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, he heard God calling … “Abraham! Abraham!” When God called the boy Samuel to inform him that He would be dealing with Eli son’s most harshly He called “Samuel! Samuel!” When Jesus spoke about Jerusalem he said He longed to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks … He said “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” Before Peter betrayed Jesus, Jesus said to him that satan asked that he sift him as wheat. He started His sentence “Simon! Simon!” If you examine each of these verses within their context you will find that that all deal with sin, testing, warning and encouragement. Each time the language is loving. This is true with Saul even though he fumed hatred in seeking the death of the Christian Church! This is the emotion behind all our language that Jesus requires. I don’t know about you but I fail all too often. The more Scripture input the more love output. Let us try this strategy of Jesus.
2) The question presented. “Why do you persecute me?” Jesus knew the answer, but did Saul? Like almost all the other Pharisees, he thought destroying the Christian Church was doing God a favor! Spiritually he was so blind that legalism ran so high, that he was unable to grasp and understand the very Scriptures Gamaliel taught him about Messiah. It was the “fathers” way and no other way. Like so many today, Saul had access to the Scriptures but because of his “dead soul” he could not put the prophetic puzzle and the Gospel puzzle together. He needed help and the help he needed was only available through the Lord Jesus Himself. This is the reason for the dramatic intervention of the extreme blinding light and his falling to the ground in staggering wonder.
Should you read this Note and what has been said rings true of you, may I suggest that you visit a friend or pastor you know and ask for help in understanding the Gospel. Your soul is very important as it lives forever. Don’t neglect its eternity by being spiritual careless. You don’t want to be like some money I transferred today … nowhere!
I visited the bank after withdrawing money from my account for remaining days I have left in South Africa. At the same bank I closed the account, transferring the balance into another account. I was asked whether for R50 I would want an immediate transfer. I agreed to this as time is running out. After the transaction the account was closed and I cut up my bank card. An hour later I received a SMS saying the transfer failed. I called the number provided and they could not help because the bank account was closed. I went online and the account is closed and the money was taken out. All numbers and codes were correct, yet the money is “nowhere”. You don’t want your soul to be “nowhere” in God’s world because then your soul would be lost as my money might be lost! Be spiritually carefully. This is your responsibility.
3) The Lord Jesus provides basic instructions.
(1) “Get up”. Saul was face down in the dusty gravel. (The main arterial roads between cities were made from a bottom layer of rough gravel and crushed stone with a top layer of fine gravel.)
(2) Go into the city. God’s Kingdom Business will be made known in the city by a hand selected, faithful servant.
(3) You will be told what you must do. Note the word “must” in the text. Not “what I want you to do” or “here is my suggestion for you”. Rather Saul is told what he “must” do for Jesus into the future. It has nothing to do with destroying the Church. Rather, his mission would be building the Church. He would be the apostle to take the Gospel to …
(a) “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).
(b) “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
That is all Jesus’ instructions to Saul. It’s not comprehensive but adequate. There are times our Lord gives us just sufficient information through His Word for the present. Thereafter until He provides further guidance we trust Him by faith. In your own time read through Matthew 6:19-34 with special focus on:
Mt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The whole passage deals with food, clothing, money and possessions … and Jesus says … make certain you are in the Kingdom (seek first his kingdom). Make certain you are following Kingdom Principles (Gospel Morality). Then God will make certain He will supply all your requirements. That you do by faith and that is my point with God’s guidance. He does not always provide a full explanation. He releases more when needed. That is living by faith. This was one of Saul’s first lessons. Not works but faith.
4) Hearing but not seeing. Saul’s entourage knew of his mission for the high priest. They were part of it. They were dumb struck by Jesus’ visitation. The extreme light affected them. They heard the exact words Jesus spoke to Saul … but they did not see Jesus. You see, the message was needed to be heard by all so that they knew Saul’s experience firsthand and would not hinder his future movements … but seeing Jesus was not for them. Jesus’ intent was Saul … to rescue him for Gospel Ministry. As an aside, all we need is Jesus’ Word, the Bible … and that is all He gives us. Faith in Him is built as His Word indwells us.
5) Blinded without refreshments. Those with Saul led him, holding his hand into the city. There he remained thinking through his sin, his persecution of the Church and Him seeking to damage Jesus’ Kingdom. As he did he fasted so that he could feel the full impact of what he did as a sinner needing salvation by faith and not through legalistic deeds. Sometimes it is good to focus on our relationship with God, abstaining from luxuries and pleasures.
Merciful Lord, cleanse us of all rebellious ways and raise us up to serve You. Amen.