And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Through his writings in Scripture, we come to know Paul quite well. And if anything is revealed about him, it is that he was passionate and persistent. He was dedicated and faithful. But before his encounter with Jesus, Paul was all of those things for a different cause. Persecuting Christians was something he persisted at, something he was actively pursuing with all of his fervor and energy. Perhaps he had opportunities to make different decisions and to follow a different path, but he stuck with this one. And so when he goes down on another trip to persecute more Christians, Jesus comes to introduce Himself to Saul.
Jesus interjects Himself into Saul’s story in an unavoidable way. And all of the amazing truths of Jesus’ grace are present in this moment. An important aspect of grace is that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, as we yet insisted on following our own wrong path, as we actively opposed Him. He offers us the gift of His grace in that state, before we have any chance to clean ourselves up, because believing in Jesus is the first step toward being clean. Everything changes after that moment, but before that, it is just the abundant grace of God meeting a sinner head-on.
Have we had an encounter with Jesus for ourselves? A time where we understood who He is and accepted Him as our Savior? It’s not something that only happens in church. Sometimes it’s on the road to Damascus, as we’re actively doing something that goes against God. Salvation isn’t for people who are already good somehow. Jesus didn’t die for people who could be acceptable to God on their own. Jesus died for sinners. He comes to seek and to save. He offers us, the most unworthy recipients, His amazing grace just as we are. It is up to us, then, what we will do—ignore Him, resist Him, turn away from Him, or surrender to Him and bow before Him as our Lord.