Sunday Devotional: Whom Christ struck blind

Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Sometimes God uses a drastic method to get our attention. That’s what happened to an awful man named Saul.

Born c. AD 5 in the Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in today’s south-central Turkey), Saul was a Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin, whose father and grandfather were Pharisees. The Pharisees claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish laws. Though a Jew, Saul was by privilege a Roman citizen.

An approximate contemporary of the twelve Apostles, Saul neither followed nor even saw Jesus preach. Instead, being a zealot for Jewish law and traditions, he saw Jesus’ disciples as enemy and dedicated himself to the persecution of the early Christians, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen.

When Saul was in his late 20s, as he was approaching Damascus from Jerusalem on a mission to arrest all Christian Jews in Damascus, he and his company were struck by a great light. Falling to the ground. Saul alone heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul asked the voice to identify himself. The voice answered, “Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.”

Trembling, Saul cried out, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” The Resurrected Christ told Saul that in Damascus, he would learn what would be expected of him.

As Saul got off the ground, he realized he had become blind. He was led to Damascus where, for three days, he remained blind and neither ate nor drank.

As in all genuine encounters with God — including our own, should we be so graced — Saul’s dramatic confrontation with the risen Christ changed him forever. Now renamed Paul (which means “little”), not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ, arguably the most influential early Christian missionary. Perhaps even more important, Paul developed the first Christology — doctrines and theories of the meaning of believing in Jesus Christ.

Imagine the radical changes in thought and belief that Saul’s conversion required. He had to change not only his Jewish conception of who the messiah was, particularly the absurdity to Jews of a crucified messiah, but also the grandiose belief in the superiority of the Jewish people.

More importantly, more than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15).

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superseded by the universal faith of Christianity.

Paul was indefatigable in bringing the Word of Christ to both Jews and Gentiles. Through his missionary activities and writings he eventually transformed religious belief and philosophy around the Mediterranean Basin. His leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups who worshiped the God of the ancient Jews, adhered to the Mosaic moral code of the Ten Commandments, but relaxed or abandoned entirely Judaism’s ritual and dietary teachings since those laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ.

That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

Paul’s missionary travels — preaching and establishing Christian nodes and communities — can be grouped into three. As seen in the map below, he traversed the Mediterranean region, in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous.

~Click map to enlarge~

The 14 letters (Epistles) attributed to Paul in the New Testament were written during ten years of his missionary journeys. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain. Among the writings of early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was “Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West” and that “he had gone to the extremity of the west.”

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius wrote around A.D. 110 that Paul was martyred. According to Christian tradition, St. Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero, on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down.

June 29, therefore, is the joint feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words (2 Timothy 4:6-8):

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful, pre-conversion Saul; the post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love St. Paul with all my heart. I can only hope that, should our time darken to the point when Christians are persecuted as in the days of the early Church, I too will have his courage to “finish my course,” “keep my faith,” and stand “ready to be sacrificed.”

I now conclude this post with my favorite passage — St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-16:

“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sources used:

  • One Hundred Saints (Little, Brown and Co., 1993).
  • Rosemary Ellen Gulley, The Encyclopedia of Saints (NY: Visionary Living, 2001).
  • St. Paul,” Catholic Online.
  • Paul the Apostle,” Wikipedia.

17 responses to “Sunday Devotional: Whom Christ struck blind

  1. The same thing happened to a guy named Bob, He’s blessed to have the life he lives, it’s better than I deserve. Thanks for Posting.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Today 4/29/2018 is Pesach Sheni but on Elohim’s Biblical Calendar, it is Pesach because the month of Abib began on 4/16-17 at the beginning of 5778 (Psalms 118). Tonight at midnight is when the Angel of Death comes and the groom comes for His bride. Matt 25:1-14; Exod 12; Samson; the Prophets; Job mention midnight. Mercury is at its greatest western elongation and Uranus finished in Pisces with the coming of the House of Israel and the House of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-38) and is now in Aries (Vav). The Aleph-Tav is the clasp of the necklace and 3 letters that spell many words at the center of the Hebrew Letter necklace and in the Heavens the clasp is Virgo-Leo. Virgo began with the Messiah 2000 years ago and Leo ends it in 5778 (Civil Year) on Yom Teruah Rabbinic Day (Sept 20, 5777) and Yom Teruah Biblical Day (Sept 23rd, 2017) on the Special Day of Awe with the Revelation 12:1 sign and Yom Kippur with the 120th Jubilee from Creation. This 5778 is the year when all of humanity dies in. At sunset tonight is the High Sabbath of Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 24:44; Psalms 118:5 (the Rapture); Psalms 81:3 (New Moon, Full Moon, on a Solemn Feast Day =Matt 24:29-31 After the tribulation of those years (2007-2017 from Yom Teruah to Yom Kippur; Rev 2:10, at the SOUND of the Trumpet, the Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus Christ) sends four angels to the four corners of the earth to gather the brides and her five virgins (Matt 25:`1-14) for the greatest wedding the Heavens have seen. Psalms 118:10-13 is Ezekiel 38-39 War which can be a ten day war between Yom Teruah to Yom Kippur ends on Yom Kippur with the marriage between the groom and bride in front of the Father/Abba/Elohim and Battle of Megiddo on Oct 20th, 2018/5778. Then we have 5 days of grace until the Messianic Kingdom/Millennium/Sukkot on October 25th, 2018. Tonight is Prov 7:20 fulfillment and Chapter 60 of the Book of Enoch. Welcome to the Day of the Lord/Adonai/YHVH/G-d. Jardalkalatgmail.blogspot.com.

    I am alone but not lonely and I beat to the sound of a different drummer (Autistic with Atypical autism (Jardalkal@aol.com for the 50 page testimony). . John Ashcraft Ashkenazi Jew who is one of the 144,000 Jewish Evangelists of Revelation who stays after the rapture until Pentecost and then gets beheaded in a Fema Camp or gets to see the Messiah coming on Yom Teruah (This is my goal) on Oct 10, 2018. Mat_16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. This is my goal. What is yours?
    By the way, I already know that God will fulfill this promise for my life.

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on kommonsentsjane and commented:

    Reblogged on kommonsentsjane/blogkommonsents.

    Sunday Devotional.

    kommonsentsjane

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Indeed Paul was a great teacher and example to the nations of the love and faithfulness of Jesus. He never taught the nations to adhere to the laws given through Moses though, as you say in your post. In fact, that issue became so contentious between Paul and the rest of the apostles and those they were teaching, that we see after much debate in Acts15, all of the apostles concluded that the Gentiles were never to be taught to keep the law of Moses nor the circumcision of Abraham.
    “And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, SUBVERTING YOUR SOULS, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” vs.23,24
    Their only charge was to teach the Gentiles to refrain from the practices of the idolatry they did before they came to faith in Jesus.
    “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.” Vs.29
    This then is the instruction of Paul for those he taught. This was the gospel that Jesus entrusted to him. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”Gal.2:16
    And
    “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom.10:9,10
    Blessings:-}

    Like

  5. How beautiful. Wonderful post. Thanks so much. St. Paul is an inspiration. You did a marvelous job of outlining his life. He was a “real” rabbi, taught by Gamaliel. It is said that he went to the Essenes because Gamaliel had come to believe and was living among them.

    There were no “halfway” measures for St. Paul. It was “all or nothing”. I love your selection of a quote. But then I love all the Epistles.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. St. Paul was living proof that Our Lord can change anyone, with his consent. Saul was an assassin; He was a terrorist. It has been estimated he was responsible for the deaths of between 25,000 and one hundred thousand Christians. He was zealous to the point he likely believed he was doing God a service. But Christ stopped him in his tracks and turned him around.
    And not only did St. Paul go on to be the greatest missionary that ever lived, but in all likelihood, his conversion probably did send shockwaves through the Jewish establishment of the time that this Saul, son and grandson of Pharisees, became one of the Risen Christ’s camp. So imagine the irony the Pharisees endured: The Crucifixion of Christ was just the beginning of their problems!
    Not only did Our Lord choose to turn this enemy into a convert, but I believe that this event was also His Opening Salvo against the Roman Empire. Ever since the conversion of St. Paul, Christianity has proved one thing singular in All History: The more it is persecuted, the more Christianity grows. Christianity CANNOT be wiped out—it only appears to be suppressed. And then it COMES BACK. THIS is the proof of its Truth!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Surely you could find a better singer—she begins flat and sings in the throat.

    Like

  8. Amen. I truly enjoy the Sunday Devotionals. Thank you.

    “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” Geo. Orwell

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thank you Doc and only hope I have that same strength when the time comes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you to all for your kind words.

    Like

  11. awesome devotional Dr. Eowyn…thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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