Paul Met Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1–9)
If you had found Saul who later became know as Paul, on the road to Damascus you would have seen a very zealous man, who actually thought he was doing God a service by persecuting the Christians.
Had you stopped Saul and asked him why he was persecuting Christians, he might have said something like this:
“Jesus of Nazareth is dead.
Do you expect me to believe that a crucified nobody is the promised Messiah?
According to our Law, anybody who is hung on a tree is cursed [Deut. 21:23].
Would God take a cursed false prophet and make him the Messiah?
His followers are preaching that Jesus is both alive and doing miracles through them.
But this power of theirs can only come from Satan, not from God.
This is a dangerous sect, and I intend to eliminate it before it destroys our historic Jewish faith!”
In spite of his great learning (Acts 26:24), Saul was spiritually blind (2 Cor. 3:12–18) and did not understand what the Old Testament really taught about the Messiah.
Some Christian today seam to be able quote their Bible better then we can but are like Saul was, spiritually blind.
Like many others of his countrymen, Saul stumbled over the Cross and what it really meant (1 Cor. 1:23), because he depended on his own self righteousness and not on the righteousness of God (Rom. 9:30–10:13; Phil. 3:1–10).
Many self-righteous religious people today do not see their need for a Saviour, and resent it if you tell them they are sinners and do need a Saviour.
Saul’s attitude was like that of an angry animal whose very breath was dangerous! (Acts 8:3)
Like many other rabbis, he believed that the Law as in the Old Testament had to be obeyed, before the Messiah could come; and yet these “heretics” were preaching against the Law, the temple, and the traditions of the Fathers (Acts 6:11–13).
Saul destroyed some of the Churches in Judea (Gal. 1:23) and then got authority from the high priest to go as far as Damascus to hunt down and destroy the disciples of Jesus.
This was no insignificant enterprise on Saul’s part as the authority of the highest Jewish council was behind him (Acts 22:5).
Damascus had a large Jewish population, and it has been estimated that there could well have been thirty to forty synagogues in the city.
The fact that there were already believers of Jesus there indicates how effective the Church had been in spreading the message in those early days.
Some Christians may have fled the persecution in Jerusalem, which may explains why Saul wanted authority to bring them back to stand trail.
The first Christians were still identified with the Jewish synagogues, for the break with Judaism was not to come for a few more years.
Saul was on his way to Damascus, when suddenly he found himself on the ground!
It was not a heat stroke or an attack of epilepsy that put him there, but a personal meeting with Jesus Christ.
At midday he saw a bright light from heaven and heard a voice speaking his name
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute 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.” (Acts 9:5&6)
The men with him also fell to the earth and heard the sound, but they could not understand the words spoken from heaven.
They stood to their feet in bewilderment hearing Saul address someone, but not knowing what was happening.
Saul of Tarsus made some wonderful discoveries that day.
To begin with, he discovered to his surprise that Jesus of Nazareth was actually alive!
Of course, the Apostles and the Christians had been constantly affirming this (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:30–32), but Saul had refused to accept their testimony.
If Jesus was alive, then Saul had to change his mind about Jesus and His message.
He had to repent, a very difficult thing for a self-righteous Pharisee to do.
Saul also discovered that he was a lost sinner who was in danger of the judgment of God.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).
Saul thought he had been serving God, when in reality he had been persecuting the Messiah!
When measured by the holiness of Jesus Christ, Saul’s good works and legalistic self-righteousness where nothing (Isa. 64:6; Phil. 3:6–8).
All of his values changed.
He was a new person because he was now trusted Jesus Christ.
Saul had been chosen for a special task by Jesus Himself. (Acts 26:16–18).
The Hebrew of the Hebrews would become the Apostle to the Gentiles; the persecutor would become a preacher; and the legalistic Pharisee would become the great proclaimer of the grace of God.
Up to now, Saul had been like a wild animal, fighting against the whip; but now he would become a vessel of honor, the Lord’s “tool,” to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond.
What a transformation this was to be!
Some thirty years later, Paul wrote that Christ had “apprehended him” on the road to Damascus (Phil. 3:12).
Saul was out to arrest others when the Lord arrested him.
Saul had to lose his religion before he could gain the righteousness of Christ.
His conversion experience is unique, because sinners today certainly do not always hear God’s voice or see blinding heavenly lights like Saul did.
However, Paul’s experience is an example of how Israel will be saved when Jesus Christ returns and reveals Himself to them (Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:29ff; 1 Tim. 1:12–16).
His salvation is certainly a great encouragement to day to any lost sinner, for if “the chief of sinners, Saul” could be saved, surely anybody can be saved!
It is worth noting that the men who were with Saul saw the light, but did not see the Lord; and they heard the sound, but did not hear the voice speaking to him.
Saul definitely saw the glorified Lord Jesus Christ that day (1 Cor. 15:7–10).
The men then led Saul into the city for the angry bull, had now become a docile lamb!
Saul the leader had to be now led, because the vision on the Damascus Road had left him blind, but his spiritual eyes had now been opened.
God was thoroughly humbling Saul and preparing him for the ministry of Ananias.
Saul fasted and prayed for three days, during which time he no doubt started to “sort out” what he believed.
Paul had been saved by the Grace of God and through faith in the living Christ.
We can still today find that Grace and Faith in Jesus Christ that Paul found on that Road to Damascus.