By George Feldman
Pictured above is a man who was known as Saul the Persecutor. He was sent from Jerusalem with authority from the High Priests to arrest all who followed Christ. But look at him now! He is secretly lowered outside the wall of Damascus, fleeing for his very life to elude those who would kill him on sight if he were caught. What happened? The background details are found recorded in Acts chapters nine and twenty six.
Traveling with soldiers and attendants from Jerusalem to Damascus, suddenly light from heaven flashed around Saul brighter than the sun, Saul and his companions fall to the ground. Saul heard the Lord's voice say, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" Saul responded, "Who are you, Lord?" The Lord replied, "I amJesus whom you persecute." The glorious light blinded Saul, but at that very moment spiritual sight and light flooded the inner man. The whole experience was a reality; not an hallucination or phenomenon beyond explanation. The event was witnessed by all who were in company with Saul. Saul's life was transformed and he did not disobey the vision from heaven. The narrative in Acts tells us he was led into Damascus, and after his sight was restored he preached in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. The Christ-hating Jews in Damascus were baffled by his turn-around, and in time they conspired to kill him. This explains the circumstances of the picture above.
Saul the Persecutor became Paul the Apostle, who gloried in calling himself the Slave of Jesus Christ. And after Paul was converted and his life transformed by the exalted Christ, he too was beaten with stripes in the synagogues, stoned, imprisoned and of ten devoted to death for the witness of Christ, becoming the victim and suffering the same things he had imposed on others. And the bitter memories of those early days were never forgotten as he referred to them in his epistles.
Truly Paul was a trophy of God's mercy and grace, and the transforming resurrection power that comes from the risen Lord of heaven.