Confronted by the Risen Lord

KEY VERSE: “And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” —Acts 26:15


THERE is no better illustration in the Scriptures of the Lord’s ability to read the heart and, by his power, overrule in the lives of his people to accomplish his will, than in the life of the Apostle Paul. The apostle was a Pharisee and of the tribe of Benjamin. He was born of Hebrew parents in Tarsus, and apparently his father also was a Pharisee.

The Scriptures introduce Saul or Paul as the young man at whose feet the false witnesses cast their coats when they stoned the disciple Stephen. Paul approved of the murder of Stephen and because of misdirected zeal for the traditions of the fathers began a program of vicious persecution against the followers of the Lord. When a Christian was to be executed, Paul voted against him.

As Saul (or Paul) started on his journey to Damascus, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3,4) It is significant that the risen Lord spoke of the persecution of his disciples as if they were persecuting him. Herein is an important truth concerning the close relationship existing between the Lord and his consecrated footstep followers. A full realization of this fact and being remorseful of past deeds prompted Paul to say, “For I am the least of the apostles, because I persecuted the church of God.”—I Cor. 15:9

After Jesus identified himself, and Paul indicated his willingness to follow the Lord’s instructions, he was led to Damascus because he was blinded by the light that shown about the Lord. The Lord also appeared in a vision to a faithful servant by the name of Ananias and instructed him to go to the house of Judas and inquire “for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” (Acts 9:11,12) Ananias objected because he was aware of the activities of Saul, and his avowed intention to bind all that called upon the name of the Lord. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”—Acts 9:15,16

It is a great testimony to the faithfulness of Ananias because, in spite of his fears, he followed the Lord’s instructions and went to Paul and healed his blindness through the power of God. The account then states that “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came thither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”—Acts 9:20-22

Because of Paul’s activity in preaching the Gospel, the Jews at Damascus plotted to kill him, but the disciples took him by night and let him down by the wall in a basket. When he came to Jerusalem he sought to join himself to the disciples, but they were afraid of him and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas, whose name means ‘the son of consolation’, befriended Paul and took him to the apostles, “and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:27,28) Paul continued to demonstrate his zeal and love for the Lord, “and he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”—vss. 27-30

This is the last that we hear about the Apostle Paul until the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to help in the witness work among the Gentiles. And when Barnabas saw the fruits of the work, he departed to Tarsus to seek Saul, or Paul, and thus began the real ministry of the great Apostle Paul.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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