Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taken By Surprise

Although I have been working through Paul's letter to the Colossians pretty much in a linear fashion, I would like to bounce back to something that impressed me recently as I read through it once again.
Paul, an apostle of the Messiah, Jesus, by the will of God. (Colossians 1:1 JVD)

Nobody was more surprised than Paul that he should be an apostle of Jesus the Messiah, and that this was the will of God. He had once been very violently opposed to Jesus and those who followed Him as Messiah. This was back when Paul was known as Saul.

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. (Acts 8:3)

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)

But then, of course, he had his “Damascus road experience” — which was the original Damascus road experience. He had a dramatic encounter with Jesus. The story is told in Acts 9. As Saul came near the city, a bright light shone around him and he fell to the ground. He heard a voice speaking to him.

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

“Who are You, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

“Lord, what do You want me to do?”

“Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Saul, his eyes blinded by that moment, continued on to Damascus, not knowing what would happen next. There was a man there named Ananias, whom the Lord Jesus directed to go to Saul, lay hands on him and restore his sight. Ananias did not understand why, because he had heard of how Saul persecuted Jesus’ followers at Jerusalem. The Lord answered, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Ananias went and Saul was healed. Immediately Saul went to the synagogues of Damascus and began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. He became part of the very movement he had originally intended to rub out there. Now he himself became a target and the Jewish leaders there plotted to kill him. But the believers there help him get away safely.

Saul went back to Jerusalem to join with the believers there, the ones he had once persecuted. But his former reputation was still with him, and the disciples at Jerusalem feared him. They did not believe he was now one of them. But Barnabas took him before the apostles and told them what had happened, how Saul had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus, how he had preached the name of Jesus boldly about Jesus there and was himself persecuted for it. Then the believers at Jerusalem received him as a disciple.

So now, in his letter to the believers at Colosse, Paul identifies himself, as he does in many of his other letters, as an apostle of Jesus the Messiah. He who had once rejected Jesus and persecuted His followers was now sent by Jesus to represent him before the nations.

It was the will of God, and no one was more surprised by it than Paul.

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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