Summary: It is only through God’s grace we can see the Risen Lord!
BUT BY GOD’S GRACE!
“and last of all he was seen by me...” (1 Corinthians 15: 8)
Jesus appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time. The he appeared to James, Jesus’ brother, and again to all the apostles. “[O]ver a period of forty days” Jesus appeared to believers. Finally, Paul writes, “he appeared to me also.”
Paul considers himself very fortunate to be included with others in seeing the Risen Lord. Being what he once was, and what he had done, there is no way he considered that he should be favoured in such a way. Paul, once sought out Christians, men and women to imprison them, “breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”(Acts 9: 1). When a disciple named Stephen was being stoned to death, because of his belief in Jesus, Paul (or Saul as he was known then) looked on approvingly (Acts 8: 1). Paul, a man, full of hate and murderous in his intent, would not be one that Jesus would be interested in appearing to, but surprise, surprise, Jesus appears to him.
Now, it does not surprise us that Jesus appeared to those who followed him and believe in him, but Paul was as far as any one from Christ and Christianity at that time. Certainly, he was not a lover of the Lord, when he encountered and saw the Risen Lord!
Jesus appeared to his followers to encourage them in their faith, he appeared to Paul to bring him into the household of faith. Paul recognised that he did not deserve this experience. He says, “I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15: 9, 10). By God’s grace, by God’s grace alone, that Paul was included in the number who saw Jesus! By God’s grace Paul was one who has seen the Lord.
It is by that same amazing grace that I too can see the Lord! Paul, suggests, that there was something abnormal, unusual, irregular about his experience of the Risen Lord. What Paul discovered was that there was nothing that he had done could make God love him less. If God can love the likes of Paul, maybe, just maybe, he can love the likes of me. By God’s grace, I can be numbered among many who have seen the Lord.
Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and devised the twelve step program, went visit Bill D., a prominent attorney who had flunked out of eight separate detox programs in six months. Strapped in a hospital bed as punishment for attacking two nurses, Bill D. had no choice to listen to his visitors, who shared their own stories of addiction and the recent hope they had discovered through belief in a Higher Power.
As soon as they mentioned their Higher Power, Bill D. shook his head sadly, “No, no,” he said. “It’s too late for me. I still believe in God all right, but I know mighty well that he doesn’t believe in me any more.” It was not too late for Paul – a torturer, to see the Risen Lord. And time has not run out for us to see the Risen Lord!
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch live me,