Acts 9: 1-9 (NRSVA)
1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5 He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ 7 The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
I had been brought up right, in the teachings of the law. I had studied with Gamaliel. I was a good Pharisee. I knew the words of scripture and could quote you the words of God.
These heretics, these followers of that false teacher Jesus, they had to be stopped. They were a danger. They said that Jesus was the son of God, that he had been raised from the dead. There was talk of miracles happening in his name. This movement had to be eradicated. It HAD to be.
I was proud to have been there when we stoned Stephen to death. And I was determined to get the rest of them. To wipe them out.
I acquired letters from the high priest and I was taking them to the synagogues in Damascus. I was going to root out all the followers of Jesus, whether men or women. I didn’t care. I was going to root them out and force them to be handed over and I’d take them back to Jerusalem as prisoners. That would send a message to all those fools who believe in ‘the way’. That would stop them.
And my journey to Damascus was going well. But as I neared the city I was stopped in my tracks. A light suddenly appeared in the sky and was flashing around me. Disorientated I fell to the ground. I heard a voice but I couldn’t see who it was. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
But I couldn’t see and so I asked, ‘ Who are you?’
And the voice which seemed to echo all around me said, ‘ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.’
I was confused. Jesus, how could it be Jesus? He had been crucified on the cross. He was dead and buried. He wasn’t real. Or was he?
Was what they said true? Was he really the son of God? Had he really been raised from the dead?
If he was, if all this was true, what did that mean about me?
I had been wrong.
May God forgive me
Stop us in our tracks
and break into our lives.
Show us your truth.
Fill us with your hope,
soften hardened hearts.
Use our gifts to bring
your Kingdom here on earth.