“The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’”
— Acts 9:5
How did Saul of Tarsus get changed? He was a religious zealot, persecuting the church wherever he could find it. He was committed to its destruction because he thought God wanted him to do this.
One day, as Saul approached Damascus, we are told in the ninth chapter of Acts, suddenly there was a light that shone upon him from heaven as if God turned on a great spotlight with a brilliant, dazzling whiteness that so struck him that he fell to the ground.
He was filled with terror and trembling, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4). In the Greek text there is an interesting emphasis that does not come out in the English. What it says there is, “Why Me do you persecute?” The emphasis is on the word “Me.”
That shows us that when anyone persecutes Christians, the apple of Christ’s eye, they are persecuting Him—that we are one body. He is the head; we are the body.
Consider Jesus’ question: “Why? What have I done to you, Saul? I left My throne in glory. I came down from the ivory palaces into this world of woe. I took upon Myself your guilt and went to a cross, and there I suffered in agony, even the very wrath of My Father, for you. I endured hell for you. Why are you persecuting Me?”
We should pray for the persecuted church—that they would continue to be faithful and that their attackers would be redeemed (as Saul was) or removed.
Jesus, Lord of the church, there are many today who are persecuting You. A new wave of cruelty and barbarism is being unleashed against Your people, and we grieve and ask, “How long, Lord?” before You lift up Your mighty sword and stop Your enemies…
BY GOD’S STRENGTH, THE
MARTYRS WILL TRIUMPH.