What Paul encountered on his journey?
The second most eventful part of Christian history apart from the life of Jesus is the conversion of Saul to Paul on the road to Damascus. like Jacob Paul did not only receive a name change, but a deep change that penetrated his very Jewish rabbi nature. Paul’s understanding of spiritual life was rooted in the teachings he had received in Jewish history and interpretation of the scriptures.
Who was Paul?
Paul was of the lineage of Benjamin and Hebrew ancestry. His parents were Pharisees—fervent Jewish nationalists who adhered strictly to the Law of Moses. They worked to protect their children from contamination of anything outside Jewish laws. Paul studied under the rabbi called Gamaliel, who was a well respected teacher and leader in the Jewish Sanhedrin (gotquestions.org). Under his influence, Paul mastered the study and dissecting of scripture and Jewish history. During this study Paul worked hard to become a lawyer and a member of the Sanhedrin. He developed a fervent passion and zeal for his faith that allowed no room for compromise.
What would cause someone to change his whole perspective of life in a single encounter?
That’s the experience Paul had with Jesus. One that left him wanting to discover more intimately and passionately someone who ruined his life on the road to Damascus for the ordinary. Paul was fully caught up in the execution of his religious, co- called righteousness- keeping the law of the written code flawlessly. But God intercepted…. As a result of his miraculous conversion, Saul became known as Paul, which marked the beginning of a life radically changed and fully dedicated to the spreading of the gospel of Grace in Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and 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.
Who Paul encountered?
Paul was probably seen as a raving lunatic, a religion fanatic for the cause of religion. But, while he was on his way- ready to execute his threats against the people of God… He suddenly encounters a “light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. (Acts 9:3-5). Jesus addressed Paul directly as the Head of the church. In Paul persecuting the church his actions were directly pointed toward Jesus. This was the day he had a revelation of who Jesus really is. This startling discovery that his zeal for the one true God was sincere, in realty it was established in ignorance and unbelief and sincerely wrong. Paul who thought himself as a friend of God was really God’s enemy. His encounter with Jesus Christ would set him on the right path.
You may not encounter Jesus the way Paul did. Every encounter is unique and personal. Yet for each person who encounters Jesus there must be an evidence of change that speaks to every area of one’s life. You will not encounter Jesus and still remain the same. It is just not possible.
The Results of a great encounter
Paul expresses the impact of his conversion. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11).
We see here; Paul encountered Jesus-the mind blowing power of his resurrection, and to share in the fellowship of his suffering.
The knowledge of Christ became of greater worth to him, this knowledge of Christ surpasses anything he knew before.
Paul encounters a righteousness that is not of his own- not based on law but faith in Christ Jesus.
CONFIDENCE- relying on someone or something, a firm trust, having self-assurance in one’s own abilities and qualities.(Dictionary.com) There was a transfer of confidence from self to Christ.
Paul’s encounter produced a lifestyle and life-long change
Paul directed the object of his confidence not to himself and his amazing qualities, but toward Jesus His Lord. He directs his boast not in his long list of accomplishments, but in Christ Jesus. Whatever Paul did he did it with gusto. Full of zeal. Full of passion. Fully persuaded. When you encounter Jesus that passion and gusto you sinned with and served mammon with should be directed to Him. Jesus becomes the object of your affections. A true conversion is real and authentic. There is no uncertainty about lifestyle changes, actions speak for themselves.
If there should be any boasting it should be Paul-“Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Yet what was gain to him he counted and considered loss–garbage for the excellence of Christ (Philippians 3:5-6). Nothing in Paul’s scope of life was better than his encounter with Jesus Christ. Absolutely, NO Experience can TOP his experience with Jesus.
What are you esteeming in your life greater than Christ?
What have you encountered in your lifetime that makes you put Jesus in box?
Who has come into your life and seemingly sweep you off your feet – causing you to put Jesus in second place?
Think about it!
The longer you live the more you encounter things every day. But none of these encounters will ever be able to replace or substitute for Christ. You can find a substitute for almost anything in life that may work just as good; but there will never be a substitute for Jesus. When you encounter Christ-His love, His forgiveness, the surpassing greatness of his grace toward you, like Paul you will never, ever be the same. You cannot and will not be the same after Jesus has met with you. What Paul discovered, beyond his human ability to comprehend the law, was a supernatural experience that would defy all he knew about religion and Jewish history. Scripture for real was coming to life before his very eye. As a result a lifestyle and a lifetime of real visible changes were evident.