Summary: What a makeover, a complere change of person...of knowledge but not action.
So last week you had a break from Acts, and now we are returning to the subject just at a critical point. Saul’s conversion to Paul or his conversion from Zealous Jew to Zealous Christian. Several weeks ago we met Saul as the Sanhedrin was stoning Stephen. We are told that the people laid their clothes at his feet. And the he approved.
Starting on that day Chapter 8 tells us that he went from house to house to kill this church. He drug men and women off to prison.
I am not sure that it is some statement of his position that some how he was the one with the responsibility of overseeing the event. Perhaps it is.
Today’s scripture can be used to support that as he is charged with this trip to Damascus.
Saul was a religious terrorist….. He, acting with his misguided understanding, grabbed up other Jews and did his best to get them executed. He was willing to kill people that he though of as heretics…defined by his sense of values.
In other places in scripture, Paul often expresses his regret and describes how he is the bigger sinner and I believe he holds regret for his terrorism.
He can’t fix what he did.
He can’t make it right to the families.
Basically, he knows that he was not only hurting people but, was actually attacking God.
Folks, when you are convicted of doing, it is going to be hard to get over.
What we are talking about today is a Conversion Experience.
Our scripture opens with a description of Saul, “still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”
Isn’t that a clear description of his attitude or his haltered. Not just speaking about the problem….Breathing out threats. Saul was living on his hate like the need to breath, his breath spoke of murder of these horrible people.
In October of 2001, on the ABC network morning show, Diane Sawyer interviewed the sister-in-law of Osamma Bin Laden. She has been estranged from one of Bin Laden’s 23 brothers, Yeslam, and is seeking a divorce. For 27 years she put up with abuse – and she wants out!
Diane Sawyer asked Carmen Bin Laden, Do you hate Osamma Bin Laden?
She said, Hate him? No I cannot hate Osamma Bin Laden. He hates, and look at what he does. I must not hate.
Paul holds a hate that is not founded in something they did to him In fact his hit is not directly related to any physical actions of the followers of the way. It is based on a disagreement of what God has done and continues to do. His response to murderous threats and physical actions. He is not happy with just cleaning up Jerusalem. He wants to take justice (his justice) on the road.
He goes to the High Priest (thought o be Ciafus) to get permission to find these followers of the way in Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners.
He is so fired up that he wants to travel somewhere over 150 miles, estimated to be 7 days travel, round up the people that ran and drag them back for punishment, maybe a trial like Stephen had if it does not take too much time.
He gets his letters and sets out. We don’t have a real clue as to how far they traveled, although we suspect that it was not too far from Damascus when there is a bright light and Saul falls to the ground.
There is a voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
At that moment, I wonder what he was thinking? He is an expert in scripture and the law. Does he connect the even to events with the prophets and how they encountered God?
Does he think that he has had an accident and whacked his head and this is a dream?
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
Now what is he thinking…OH DARN!!! This has got to be a bad dream.
When he calls the voice lord, I doubt it is an identification as to who it is..or that it is God. It is more likely a sign of respect to someone superior. Perhaps, he has connected what is happening as being something supernatural form God.
Don’t you think he was shocked when the voice identifies himself as Jesus. He went from bad dream to nightmare. The voice gives him instruction and when he gets up and opens his eyes he finds that he is blind.
The men with him heard “ the sound” We guess a voice, however maybe another language but they did not see anyone that could have made the sound or statements.