Have you ever been absolutely convinced that you were right about something and everyone else was wrong? You were willing to bet the whole farm you were right - but later, you found out you were wrong! Saul and the Pharisees believed that Jesus, whose followers claimed to be the Messiah, was dead! They watched Him die on the cross and refused to believe anything different. In their minds, if anything happened to Him beyond death, it must have been empowered by Satan, but certainly not God. As a result, they considered this new movement a dangerous perversion and threat to historic Judaism that must be stopped at all costs. It is estimated that 285 million people suffer from some form of visual impairment, and nearly 40 million are functionally blind. It’s difficult for most of us to imagine the challenges they face or what it’s like to never be able to see the faces of loved ones. And yet, there is a far worse form of blindness that affects many more people in the world: spiritual blindness. Spiritual blindness is not to see Christ, and not to see Christ is not to see God. You are unable to understand God’s word and are totally lost. The truth sounds like foolishness. Wrong seems right, and all of life is spiritually dark. In Acts 9, Saul is spiritually blind and angry. In this well-known account, he is on his way to the ancient city of Damascus to hunt down these Jesus followers and extradite them back to Jerusalem for punishment. As Saul and his entourage are close to their destination, God steps into time and space and dramatically confronts Saul face to face in a blinding light. Saul discovered several important things that day:
Jesus was actually alive. And as they say, "this changes everything." Saul would have to reorient his entire life around this new reality.
He was a lost sinner facing God's wrath. Saul had to lose his religion before he could be right with Christ.
His past did not disqualify him from God's grace.
The message of the cross means anyone can come to Christ. There is no sin too bad or no evil too wicked that can prevent someone from receiving the grace of God if, like Saul, we repent. The gospel did when religion could never do, it changed Saul's heart. Religion can make you conform, but only the gospel can transform. Press on! Pastor Brian Richard