Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“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.”

Acts 9:1-6 NIV

Before the events of our scripture today, Saul had been going around, eliminating anyone tied to Christianity. Saul was a vocal and voracious opponent of Christianity, and he believed that it was his spiritual duty to fight against Christianity as hard as he could.

Saul’s concerns center around the resiliency and commitment that these early Christians demonstrated as they lived their lives for the Kingdom of God. Saul, as well as many others, know that no matter how much he oppresses these disciples of Christ, they will not just lay down and die. They keep coming back stronger and more powerful.

Saul knows that if they will not give up their beliefs under oppression, it is his duty to turn up the heat. So, he received letters from the high priest to arrest any followers of Christ that he sees on his way to Damascus. Not only does this give him boldness, but it gives him legitimacy. He now has the backing of the establishment.

But his attempts to destroy this infant movement are foiled. While he is on his way, a light shines down from heaven. This light, God’s glory, flashes all around him and knocks him from his animal. He sinks to his knees, and he hears God say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

In Saul’s mind, this is not what he is doing. In his mind, he is protecting the law and defending the faith. Saul knows that as it relates to the law, he is perfect. However, on this road, Saul’s life was changed. He had planned to stop every Jew travelling from Damascus to Jerusalem but not anymore.

Saul goes from the pursuer to the pursued. While Saul thought that he was chasing down disciples, God was chasing down him. 

This clashing moment showed Saul that he was created for something more than what he was doing. God shows up, challenges Saul, and battles with Saul. In our lives, it is similar. We might say things like, “I came to Jesus,” but the reality is that Jesus chased us down.

When God appears before us and calls us, our natural inclination is to raise objections, but that clash, when we surrender and sacrifice our personal goals and desires, brings us to an assigned place, not a comfortable one.

Just as Saul found out on the road to Damascus, we are always being pursued by God. He chases us to change our outlook until our outlook aligns perfectly with His will. He is chasing us so that we can live lives that matter, not just live a life.