June 27th 2009

Why Do You Persecute Me?

3 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14

“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. The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone”.
Acts 9:3-7 (NIV UK)

“Why do you persecute me?” Jesus asked Saul.

Saul was stopped in his tracks. Meeting Jesus can be like that.  You plan to go one direction, and then your whole life turns around and you follow Him, not always sure where you’re going but knowing that you’re on the right Way.

Saul could have protested, “I have not persecuted you.  What do you mean?”  Of course, this was the Jesus who explained that whatever good or harm you may do to one of His followers, it is as if you do it to Him.  “I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”, He said (Matthew 25:40 NKJ).

I wonder whether we grasp that point.  Christ is in fact saying that we should treat everyone as if we are dealing with Jesus Himself.  A tall order!  Do I treat my wife as if she was Jesus?  My children?  My annoying neighbour?  Whatever I say or do to them it is as if I am saying it or doing it to Jesus.  Help!  Thank God that He is merciful.  Occasionally I have a martyr complex and feel as if others are always picking on me and being unkind to me, but what about the other way around?  How do I regard them?  Do I regard them as someone for whom Christ has died?

The onlookers were flabbergasted.  The great Saul had been brought to the ground.  The mighty had fallen.  They did not understand what was going on.  They did not know that this was the beginning of Saul’s conversion.  The trembling and astonished Saul, blinded by a blazing light “brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13), was led by them into Damascus (9:8).

When Jesus begins to change you, others may be astonished too, just like the time when Jesus got Saul’s attention.  Better look out.  When Jesus is working in you, things can get awkward, even wonderful.

Prayer
Great God in heaven, help me to see the possibility of Jesus in the life of others, and to behave towards them accordingly.  Help me to understand that all with whom I come into contact are people for whom Christ died.
Amen

Study by James Henderson

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