An Encounter with Truth (Part One)- Acts 9:1-9

This passage describes the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, in which he is transformed by an encounter with the truth. Saul is “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”. The term “breathing out” presents the idea that Saul’s entire being is devoted to persecution of Jesus disciples and the destruction of His church. He travels with letters (epistles) from the high priest authorizing him to take prisoner any followers of Jesus found in the synagogues. It is rather ironic that the one upon whose letters (epistles) the church of Jesus would be built is carrying letters (epistles) through which to destroy it. As he nears Damascus, a light “out of heaven”, brighter than the noonday sun (see Acts 26:13), flashes around him. This light is brighter than the sun at its brightest, the brightest natural source of light at its very brightest point, and can only be of a supernatural source. This is obviously a description of an encounter with the shekinah glory of God, the light flashing around Saul is the glory of God appearing to him. He responds as any orthodox Jewish rabbi would in the presence of the shekinah glory, he prostrates himself on the ground in the presence of God. He then hears a voice speak to him, asking “Why do you persecute me?” Saul finds out here he has not been serving God by persecuting Jesus disciples, but has been persecuting God. He has not been doing God’s will but acting against it. He then asks God a question, “Who are you Lord? This is a really interesting question, normally seen as a request for identification, to allow Jesus to identify himself, but it can be seen as more than that. I believe this is also an existential type question, with Saul questioning his own viewpoint, his own understanding, of who God is. He may also be asking “Just who are you really, God”? Everything he thought he knew about God, all that he had devoted his life to studying about and serving is turned upside down in an instant. He realizes, in an encounter with “the Truth”, that he really doesn’t know God (or the truth) at all. The voice then answers his question, responding “I am Jesus”. This is a very important response, and Jesus responds by using the Greek ego eimi (I am). The significance of this is lost in the English, but in the Greek its importance is clear. Throughout the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT), ego eimi is used to translate the Hebrew Yahweh, the holy, unpronounceable name of God. Jesus here answers Saul in Aramaic, and His response is literally “Yahweh Jesus”, that Jesus is God. Saul of Tarsus has just learned, without question, that Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh. He had been completely wrong in all he thought about God. His encounter with truth brings a change in perspective, a change in worldview. His encounter with Jesus (“the” truth, with a capital t) gives him a new understanding of the Scriptures ( truth, with a small t), and he will spend the rest of his life growing in his understanding of truth with a small t after this encounter with truth with a capital t. An encounter with Jesus will have the same impact on anyone, giving them a new perspective, a new worldview. They will also then spend the rest of their lives growing in understanding of truth with a small t, after an encounter with the truth with a capital t.

No Comments Christianity  //  Scripture and Truth  //  Transformation

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