Job 11-13 Acts 9:1-21
“Soon he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’ All the people who heard him were amazed. They said, ‘This is the man who was in Jerusalem trying to destroy those who trust in this name! He came here to arrest the followers of Jesus and take them back to the leading priests.’” (Acts 9:20-21 NCV)
As I read the story of Saul’s (later Paul’s) conversion, I imagine the Christians in Damascus waiting for his arrival while crouching behind doorways and walls – somewhat like the rebels waiting for Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope. They’ve heard that Saul was coming. They knew he had the proper papers to arrest Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem for trial. Then, Saul marched into the synagogues and at the moment of their greatest fear, preached Jesus. The Christians must have been shocked, although perhaps, they’d heard rumors of a change in Paul. Imagine how badly the Jewish leaders must have been surprised when the one they expected to clean up this “Christian problem” suddenly aligned himself with them by preaching about Jesus.
Saul, later known as Paul, is an amazing example of a life changed by an encounter with Jesus. Once Saul met Jesus, though, he was an amazing witness. I imagine he’d heard the Christian arguments. I would guess that those he’d arrested before had shared the gospel with him. Perhaps he’d even encountered Jesus while He walked the earth. Whatever the reason, after Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, he knew how to preach Jesus. The change startled those around him. Christians weren’t sure that his conversion was real, and his former “colleagues” in the war against Christianity sought to kill him. A changed life will do that. Sometimes people come to Christ and it’s no surprise. Either they follow Jesus at a young age or their upbringing and attitude seemed to be leading towards a relationship with Christ. At other times, the change is drastic. We hear of people whose lives at one time were completely opposed to Christianity encountering Jesus. Sometimes that encounter comes dramatically through a dream or a bold believer sharing the gospel. At other times, they encounter Jesus because of the gentle, patient witness from someone they’ve come to know and love. When they truly meet Jesus, nothing can stop them from sharing their joy. Have you got joy in Jesus, or are you just getting along day to day? As our world develops more hostility to the message of Jesus Christ, we need to rediscover our joy in Jesus and share that love and joy with others. If we’re going to, eventually, deal with persecution, let our joy and our witness be used by God to make more like Paul.
Lord, restore the joy of my salvation. As I recall the joy I have because of my relationship with You, let me share Your love and joy with those who need to experience Your grace.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved