As you all know, today is Easter Sunday.
I'm sure you've heard the account of Christ's resurrection every Easter Sunday. Today at church, Doxa, my pastor took a different approach to the resurrection of Christ. Instead of going through the Gospels. Jimmy Shaw, my pastor, does church a little different than most. He preaches first, communion is done every Sunday, worship, and than offering. He also speaks through a book of the Bible.
Anyway, back to the sermon, I'm not sure if he planned it this way, but he taught from Acts 9, Saul's conversion. It fell completely right with the Easter Sunday. I've included the chapter below, so that you understand the context.
I had several revelations at church today (Don't you love when God does that, especially through your pastor. :) It always helps.) The first was that Saul was persecuting Christians as a way to get closer to God. For some reason I hadn't connected the dots that Saul was working for the high priest and that Saul actually believed in GOD! Saul wasn't killing the apostles because he hated them, well maybe he did hate them...he just didn't believe in resurrection of Christ. He believed in God but not the Son.
If you don't know the context, Saul was pretty much killing Christians. In this chapter, Christ confronts him head on, blinding him for several days, and sends Ananias to him to restore Saul's sight. In the end, Saul aka Paul ends up being a full-on-crazy apostle for Christ.
Anyway, when Saul encounters Christ on the road to Damascus, Jesus asks, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Notice Saul's response, "Who are you, Lord?" I'm sure Saul was probably freaking out a little but he recognized God.
Now I ask, do we? In the flow of our busy days, do we recognize the sovereign King? Do we see Him in everyone that we meet and everything that we do? I know this isn't in context with what was being said in Acts, but do we?
Further on, as Saul gets his sight back and starts to preach in Damascus and Jerusalem, you notice in verses 20 - 31, that he has no people. The people who he persecuted before his redemption are afraid of him and his previous employers want to kill him. He is a man without a people. All of this change happens only in a matter of days.
And think, Saul's conversion made such an impact on him that he didn't waver from the path he had set on. There's no way to know what Saul was thinking or doing specially during this time, but how would you have responded? Could you take the dramatic change of friends? If you think about it, Saul was a very favored man, in some people's eyes.
Think of when you first become a Christan, could you have dealt with everything Saul went through?
Can you deal with it now?
It wasn't the blinding light or the blindness that changed Saul's mind. It was the resurrection of Christ. Saul's basic change was the fact that he now believed that Jesus was raised from the dead.
It's important to remember that the resurrection isn't a one day thing. If you think about it, the resurrection is what changed Saul.
Has it changed you today?
Acts 9:1-31 NIV (Provided by Biblegateway.com)
1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!"
"Yes, Lord," he answered.
11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.[a]
23After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
26When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.