Acts 9: 1-9 (NIV)
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 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. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground 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.
It doesn’t get more dramatic than this. Saul, soon to be Paul, the most vigorous, determined opponent of the Christians has the original “road to Damascus” experience and becomes a Christian himself. A man steeped in the traditions of Judaism, who saw the new teachings as wrong (and maybe dangerous), suddenly embraces the very thing he had despised.
So what happens? Saul is not struck by an intellectual argument. He is not persuaded by the written word; his mind is not changed by clever points being made by a gifted preacher.
Saul, simply but dramatically, meets Jesus. Yes, the Jesus who had been crucified and placed in the grave. The Jesus whose followers were an irritation to be dealt with but who, himself, was no longer an issue. It is a simple meeting. There is no room for misinterpretation. There is no doubt. The dead man is not dead, but is alive, and is talking to Saul.
What makes people Christians and what deepens our faith is not oratory or argument. Yes, that can help. But the root of vibrant, living, developing faith is an encounter with Jesus. It’s when we realise who Jesus is and what He means that we leap on in our spiritual lives. If we have lost sight of that, it’s time to review.
Lord, thank you that Jesus is alive today and is ready to meet us. Help us to be bold in our desire to know you. Give us courage to seek you, for all you offer us. Make us determined, persistent and faithful disciples. AMEN