Acts 9:1-9 :
But Saul, still breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he traveled, it happened that he got close to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Who are you, Lord?”
The Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise up, and enter into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the sound, but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. He was without sight for three days, and neither ate nor drank.
I love the name that the Christians had before they were called “Christians.” Here, Luke refers to them as those “who were of the Way.” Saul was quite an ambitious man to attack this huge “Way” by himself. Saul had plans to go Damascus to fight against the Way but Jesus had entirely different plans for Saul.
There is another very important thing we learn about how Jesus views persecution against Christians here. Notice that Jesus told Saul that he was persecuting Him two times. When a Christian is persecuted, Jesus is being persecuted too and He feels the pain with us. There was Saul on the ground with the one he had been hurting completely overpowering him.
Saul was probably one of the worst persecutors of the Church, yet Jesus, the one being persecuted, didn’t kill him. That tells us a lot about how we should deal with those who persecute us. Not that we should never kill someone who is mistreating another, but our goal, like the goal of Jesus is that everyone would change and become a Christian before they die. It is not our desire to hurt those who hurt us but to bring them into the Kingdom of God.
It is so funny to me that Saul said: “Who are you, Lord?” This tells me that deep in his heart, somehow, Saul knew that he was up against God, but he decided to call Him Lord, which tells me that he was ready to obey.
Notice that Jesus didn’t give Saul a long-term plan about his future. Isn’t that how it is with us many times? He took Saul’s sight away but only told him his next few steps.
I’m not exactly sure what was going through Saul’s mind at this point, but if he is anything like me, he was being tortured by the thought that he deserved to be stricken by God for his great sin. It appears that Saul was about to die without water because he stopped drinking and eating and a person can’t live too long without water.