Theme: A Blinding Light
In this week’s Easter lessons we note the futility of those who tried to keep shut the tomb that was soon going to be empty, and of the need for everyone to submit to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Matthew 27:65-66
So the first thing Saul was trying to secure was his Judaism. But there was also a second item that he was desperately trying to secure, namely, himself. Later his situation during this period was described as 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 against the Christians with intense zeal, he was at the same time fighting an even more intense struggle within the secret chambers of his heart. In fact, his outward zeal may well be explained by the internal struggling. Saul had given his life to Judaism. But suppose the Christians were right? Suppose Jesus really was the incarnate Son of God? Suppose he really was the Messiah and that his death on the cross was God’s own vicarious sacrifice for his people’s sins? Suppose Jesus really had risen from the dead? Saul must not think about that. Not that! On with the work! Forward against the Christians!
In this divided mind Saul was making his way northward from Jerusalem to Damascus when suddenly a bright light flashed about him and he fell blinded to the ground. Those who were traveling with him saw the light and heard a voice, but only Saul understood what the voice said.
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. The way in which he answered the speaker showed that Saul sensed very well 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, now 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. As God said, “The man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15, 16). This persecutor of Christians became the first great Christian missionary.
“Go, make your ancient religion, its traditions, your heart as secure as you know how.” That is right. Letters! Arrests! Trials! Executions! Make yourself secure against Jesus. Stamp him out by your activity. Subdue him by your zeal.
Suddenly … there was a bright light and the reality of Resurrection!
Explain the second item Saul was trying to secure.
Contrast what Saul once was with what he became when he met the risen Christ.
Reflection: How do people act, and what do they say, when they are trying not to deal with the claims of Christ upon their hearts and minds?