May 13, 2024

To Him

Devotion for the week...

I mentioned last week that I'm reading the book of Acts during my morning devotions lately, and today's devotion comes from that book again. Last week I read about Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, which I had also read several times while preparing the devotions for the Moments with Jesus QAL and Devotional Journey. That story led to two devotions during the QAL, and even still I hadn't noticed what I noticed when I read it again last week. Isn't it amazing that God's word always has something new for us?

We know the apostle Paul as one of the great men of the Bible, but the beginning of his conversion story paints him in a very different light. "Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains" (Acts 9:1-2). Yikes! Not only was Saul, later to be known as Paul, not a believer, he was trying to kill or imprison as many believers as he could! Eliminating the believers in Jerusalem wasn't good enough for him, either; he had to take his persecution on the road and see who he could capture in Damascus, too.

"As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?'

"'Who are you, lord?' Saul asked.

"And the voice replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (vv. 3-6).

From that moment on, Saul served Jesus and taught everyone he could that Jesus was the Messiah. His conversion isn't the focus for today, though. Instead, I want us to really see what Jesus said to Saul: 'Why are you persecuting me?' And then, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!'

Jesus didn't ask why Saul was persecuting the people who believed in Him, He asked why Saul was persecuting Him, as if it was Jesus Himself that Saul was hauling out of homes and into prison.

Whenever I've thought about that in the past, I thought about it kind of like, 'Saul is hurting believers, which makes Jesus sad.' This time, though, I thought of Matthew 25:37-40, where He says, "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

"'And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" That story about our eventual judgement says that whenever we help people, Jesus counts it as if it had been done unto Him.
Whatever harm we do to others, Jesus sees that as if it had been done unto Him |
Jesus' words to Saul on the road to Damascus show the flip side of that; whatever harm we do to others, Jesus sees that as if it had been done unto Him, too. That's a sobering thought, isn't it?

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