Theme: Life from death.This week’s lessons show us that God is greater than the grave.
and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’
A few years after Jesus’ resurrection, a young rabbi rose to prominence. He had studied under Gamaliel and had achieved some stature among the Pharisees, the very sect that had been instrumental in securing Jesus’ death. Christianity had not died out after Jesus’ crucifixion, and this young rabbi—his name was Saul—decided to stamp it out forcefully. He uprooted the Christians who were in Jerusalem, brought them to trial, and killed at least one (Acts 7). Then, not satisfied with his work in Jerusalem, he went to the high priest and secured letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus so that, if he found any there who were Christians, he might arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem for trial too.
Saul was in the company of those who had tried to secure the tomb of Jesus years before. He was trying to secure two things. First, he was trying to secure Judaism from the vitality of the Nazarenes sect, as some would have called it. He considered Christianity to be a heresy and Jesus to be a blasphemer, a child of Satan. By arresting Christians he hoped to destroy it and secure his own religion.
Second, he was trying to secure himself, since later he confessed that he had been trying to “kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14), like an animal fighting one who is prodding it to go in a right direction. This meant that, although Saul was fighting Christianity with zeal, he was at the same time fighting an even more intense struggle in his heart. His outward zeal may be explained by his inward struggle. He had given his life to Judaism. But suppose the Christians were actually right? Suppose Jesus really was the Son of God? Suppose he really was the Messiah and that his death really was a vicarious sacrifice for sin? Suppose Jesus really had risen from the dead? Saul couldn’t think about that. Not that! On with the work! Onward in the war against Christians!
In this turbulent state of mind Saul was making his way northward to Damascus when suddenly a bright light flashed about him and he fell blinded to the ground.
He heard a voice. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me”
“Who are you, Lord” Saul asked. His answer showed that he sensed what was coming,
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice replied, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-6). When Saul, hereafter known as Paul, obeyed and went into Damascus, God sent a disciple named Ananias to confirm him in faith and tell him of God’s call to world evangelism. The feared persecutor of the Christians became the churchs first missionary. Saul had tried to secure himself against Jesus. But suddenly there was the bright light, Jesus was speaking, and the resurrection had become an undeniable reality.
Have you been confronted by the power of Jesus’ resurrection? Or are you still trying to make your life secure against Jesus? Perhaps you have heard of Christ’s gospel, but you have been trying to keep Jesus politely in his place. I warn you: Jesus is not that easily contained. You can push him down, but he will crop up again. You can banish him from your thoughts, but he will come back when you are least expecting him. What are you going to do against the power of the one so many call Lord? How are you going to make yourself secure against Jesus?
Prior to his conversion, what two things was Paul seeking to accomplish in his persecution of Christians?
To what may we likely attribute Sauls zeal in crushing out Christianity?
Read Acts , 8:1-3, and :1-31 for a full accounting of Paul’s conversion,
Do you know anyone who fights against Christianity? This may mask an inward struggle with the truth. Pray for the conversion of any persecutors” you know.
There is no way to make yourself secure against Jesus Christ.