For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
We all know this story well. Saul of Tarsus is on his way to Damascus with letters that will allow him to persecute anyone who is believing and proclaiming Jesus Christ as God and Savior, the Christ who would bring Salvation and restoration to Israel. But on the way, Jesus meets Saul in a brilliant light that is so bright that he becomes blinded. His companions then lead him to Damascus where he remained for three days praying and seeking God. After three days God calls a man by the name of Ananias to go and heal Saul’s sight. As soon as Ananias heals Saul he is so transformed by God that he (Saul) goes immediately to the Synagogue to proclaim and prove that Jesus was and is the Son of God and the Christ.
This is truly an amazing conversion. It is so amazing in fact that we often see it as something that has no bearing on our lives. We say, “Paul’s (Saul) situation was unique and God doesn’t necessarily work in the lives of believers like that anymore.” Now, I will grant you that God probably is not going to meet most of us on a road with a light from heaven (it would be cool if he did), but that is not the part I am concerned about. What concerns me is that we can look at how passionate for Jesus Saul became and somehow believe that we are not called to the same thing.
We begin to believe that Saul proclaiming the truth of the gospel in a passionate way was something specific that God called him to and does not apply to all believers today. However, what we miss is that two chapters before this there is a man by the name of Stephen who was originally appointed as a deacon. Now Stephen wasn’t anyone special, he was a man chosen to wait tables, but despite his position he lived and preached the gospel of Christ to the point that he was stoned to death. He was some dude, called to serve in a behind the scenes way in the early church, but was so passionate for Jesus that he was still telling everyone he knew about Jesus. And in the end it cost him his life.
So what should we learn from this today? How does God want to us to apply this to our own lives? These passages should cause us to ask the question, “What does our proclamation say about our believe in Jesus as the Christ?” Are we people who are so enthralled with Jesus as our conquering and saving Lord and King that we can’t help but go and tell other people about him? Or, are we just content to live comfortable lives where we are good people who sometimes are willing to tell people that we are Christians, but only if people won’t get offended?
For Paul and Stephen, they boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ because they knew he was and is the Lord and King who not only conquered sin and death, but he had come to ransom a people for himself and radically reorient their lives around his eternal kingdom purposes. Purposes that are for the present and eternal good of his people and purposes that will bring about the full coming of his kingdom as he gathers a people for himself from every tribe, tongue and nation.
So are you enthralled with Jesus today? Do you see him as the conquering Lord and King who has not only ransomed you, but has called you to a powerful proclamation of his kingdom? I realize that this kind of lifestyle is considered radical in our day and most of us don’t want it. However, we must also realize that we are also missing out on all that God has for us in Christ, which means that we will not experience the fullness of life and joy that is meant to be ours through Christ. Why? Because our greatest fulfillment is found in believing and walking in obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As Jesus says in John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may in you, and that your joy may be full.”
All of the promises and all the commands to obedience, which includes a bold lifestyle of proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, are given to us that our joy would be full. Will you live in and experience that joy today?