“At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”
To this high-ranking audience, Paul tells the story of his vision and his conversion. It would sound a little sensational – to hear a voice, to see the bright light, to recite such a mandate from a divine being.
But at this point, Paul is far from afraid of sounding weird. The Roman-ruled world was full of weird. There were people that cut open goats and looked at their innards to predict the future! There were rulers that claimed to be sons of gods and tried to show proof by shooting stars, meteorites, eclipses, and other signs of nature.
So from this little narrative, Paul establishes a few things and assumed his hearers understand:
Paul is sent by this powerful voice:
Paul is told that he’ll be rescued from his enemies and in the process turn people from darkness to light
The darkness is Satan, the enemy of the God of the Jews and all people
Satan is named here as the enemy in the darkness that Paul will turn people away from. Whatever evil gods or goddesses his audience believed in, Paul didn’t care. He called evil by the proper name because that’s what Jesus said.
Forgiveness comes when you turn to Jesus
That’s what Jesus told Paul. Paul is going to carry the message so that people will receive forgiveness from God and be set apart from the world because of their faith in Jesus.
It’s not a long message or a complicated one, but it’s true. Paul gets to the point of good and evil and our need for salvation quick. Then he tells all who would hear how to find that salvation.
Whether we are before kings or curious co-workers, the pattern is genius. Most people already agree that there is evil in the world. Many would acknowledge that we all need help – even with the evil habits we carry alone.
Just like then, Jesus offers forgiveness and deliverance. It sounds weird, like it did then, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
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