Saul of Tarsus
Saul was an expert in the Law of Moses. Having been raised up in the Pharisaical teachings and traditions, Saul took care to adhere to every rule and regulation set forth in the Torah. According to his own testimony, Paul considered himself “faultless” in his observance of all that the law required (Phil. 3:6.) Circumcised on the eighth day, a pharisee of pharisees…Saul was the perfect example of a devout Jewish man.
Rising above his peers, the soon-to-be apostle sat at the feet of the premier Jewish rabbi of his time, Gamaliel. As he sat and listened to the teaching of his elders, Saul of Tarsus grew more and more zealous for the traditions of his people… “And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” (Galatians 1:14) This overwhelming zeal became the fuel for his persecution of the early Christian church.
As he was breathing threats against the Church of God, Jesus confronted Saul. Jesus, the one who Saul was persecuting, stepped into the darkness of Saul’s ignorance and revealed Himself. All that Saul had built his life on, every accolade, every tradition, every ancestral claim, came face to face with the Son of God. In an instant, Saul of Tarsus was forever changed.
Though the remaining majority of Paul’s life is recorded for us by Luke in the book of Acts, I am urged by the Holy Spirit to ask one question…What happened on the road to Damascus? How did a man like Saul, a zealous, well-educated Pharisee, become a man like Paul? The answer is simple; Paul met Jesus.
You see, up until this moment, Saul of Tarsus had built his life around every good thing, yet never found the best thing. He had elevated his thinking, adhered to the most reasonable theology, and according to his religion, climbed the “ministerial ladder.” And yet, in all of this, He missed the Truth.
But Jesus did not leave him there. Jesus offered Saul the very thing his heart so desperately desired; love. Jesus was supremely interested in Saul, not his accolades. For once in his life, someone looked at Saul for who he was. Casting aside every achievement, Jesus grabbed ahold of Saul’s heart and loved him.
This became one of Paul’s most cherished moments. Routinely in the epistles, Paul uses this phrase, “[Jesus] loved me, and gave Himself for me.” And that was all he needed—to know and believe the love Jesus had for him.
What about you? Have you stared into the eyes of Christ? Do you know the love that Jesus has for you? He desires to make you His very own. He sees you and loves you.
Can I encourage you? Leave all of the soul-weight that is hindering you from fully embracing Jesus. Leave the intellectual questions that are causing you to stumble. This is the moment. Embrace Him. Take a couple of minutes and ask Him to open your eyes to His love.
In the love of Jesus,