Luke’s biographical prowess is well-documented among historians. It is clear Luke’s singular purpose in Acts 9 is to convey a real event regarding a real man, and the significance of this story has continued to shape history for nearly 2000 years. What does Luke’s story tell us?
A Jewish Pharisee named Saul came to face to face with the risen Christ. This encounter symbolized a number of important realities:
- Religion, as currently defined, was not going to be endorsed by Jesus. In fact, this was a direct confrontation of corrupt religion.
- In the process, Jesus addressed a much deeper question. Essentially, the issue was this: Saul, what are you pursuing? Are you going to pursue a system, or are you going to pursue Truth itself?
- Jesus would remain accessible to individuals. The resurrection was not merely going to be a ‘one-and-done’ sort of event. Rather, the ongoing power of God’s Spirit would remain with His people.
- The power of such an encounter was inevitably transformative. Paul, the ultimate skeptic, began preaching a message that confounded the Greeks and became a stumbling block for the Jews. (I Cor. 1:23) Why?
Paul experienced something much deeper than rules. This was an issue of motive, of pursuit, of heart. How did this experience change him? He began sharing the story of a divine Being who had been crucified.
Not only this, but Paul was promoting a scandalous notion: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) Such a statement would have been soundly rejected in the ancient world, for this was a culture that responded only to power and authority. Yet, the ramifications of Paul’s pronouncement were monumental, and have set in motion a series of ripple effects that have since changed the course of history.
We are still unpacking the meaning of this message today. It is a message of hope, love, faith, and freedom.
Blessed to share this Sunday,
Dr. Stephen Martin