In the forefront of the Jewish authorities’ push to quell the spread of the early church, we find Saul. He is a Pharisee of Pharisees, high among the Jewish elite, a Jew among Jews. And he hates the church. He was complicit in Stephen’s murder and now leads the persecution that began with Stephen’s martyrdom. He plans to snuff out the church, but God has other plans. On his way to root out more Christ-followers, he has a supernatural encounter with Christ himself. The implications of that encounter have far-reaching consequences not only for Saul, but for the church as a whole and, ultimately, the entire world.
‘But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. ‘ Acts 9:1-9
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