Jesus Christ Appears to Paul

5 Mins read

The appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus is undoubtedly one of the most memorable resurrection appearances in the Bible. However, it is possible that many have missed the mercy of God shining through the events. Scripture has said, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace…” (KJV, Heb. 13:9). The conversion of Paul is filled with grace.

This Easter, it is essential for the Christian to remember the grace of God. Surely one of the most remarkable places to witness such a thing is in Paul’s conversion story.

The life of Paul

First, the life of Paul must be realized. Acts 9 is Paul’s conversion chapter. The chapter starts by saying, “And Saul, yet breathing out threatening’s 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” (Acts 9:1-2). Thus, Acts 9 begins by looking back to events that recently transpired and were still raging in Paul’s heart.

Slightly before the events of Acts 9, Paul is displayed as leading a murderous mob of Jews. Stephen was a man filled with faith and the Spirit of God. He was also the church’s first martyr. Stephen stood before the high priest and his instigators. He proclaimed Christ crucified the stumbling block to Jews, and as a result, Stephen was rejected much like the Chief Cornerstone.

Stephen was stoned for sharing his heart. He was stoned for seeking to save the lost. But in the end, one reads, “Then they… ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen…” (Acts 7:57-59). Saul took part in the stoning of the first martyr. He was likely one of the leaders of the sinful event, for the Scripture says, “And Saul was consenting unto his death…” (Acts 8:1).

The mission of Paul

Paul did not stop after Stephen’s death. Instead, it only hardened his heart. He continued to wage his war against the church, and in Acts 9, one can see that he sought out letters for the synagogues in Damascus. The letters given to Paul would have given Paul the authority to bring back Christians for trial, persecution, and likely death. Paul was far from a holy man. He was far from the heart of God. As a result, Paul took his letters and traveled to Damascus to continue His murderous exploits.

The light of Christ

But then the Bible says, “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven” (Acts 9:3). Jesus Christ came as a light to the darkness of Paul’s heart. Paul was blinded by the light and possibly never saw things the same way again.

In the Old Testament, Jacob was a conniving man. He lied his way into receiving the blessing from his father. He denied his brother a bowl of pottage when he was starving to death to gain the rights of the firstborn. He had been striving with man his whole life, but then the day arose when he found himself striving with God.

An angel of the Lord came to visit Jacob, and the Bible states that he wrestled with God all night. Then the Angel of the Lord afflicted Jacob with an injury that caused Jacob to walk with a limp. Thus, Jacob would never forget his conversion experience.

It is likely the same could be said of Paul. Elsewhere the Bible seems to state that Paul had issues with his eyes. When Christ appeared to Paul, the brightness of His glory blinded Paul. Acts 9 states that Paul could not see for three days after this event.

However, the light of Christ came with the truth. Before Paul’s conversion, he did not see things as he ought. He looked upon life with a glaze of darkness. He was blind, although his physical eyes could see. Now Paul was blinded but could see with His spiritual eyes.

The power of Christ

Paul was not only blinded, but he was knocked to the ground. Scripture says, “And he fell to the earth…” (Acts 9:4). Paul’s conversion experience is remarkable. He witnessed the glorified Christ and was blinded as a result. He felt the power of Christ and was knocked to the ground.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, people went looking for Jesus. They sought to bring Him before the high priest and put Him on trial, much like Paul was doing in traveling to Damascus. The Bible says, “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). Christ displayed His power to his assailants and did so with Paul.

The reality is that every knee will bow regardless of allegiance or not. These men were made to bow before the presence of Christ, but one received mercy. He would later be like John, of whom it is said, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…” (Rev. 1:17).

The voice of Christ

While Paul witnessed the light of Christ and the power of Christ, he also heard the voice of Christ. Scripture says he “…heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:4-5). Paul responded with fear and trembling, asking what the Lord would have him do.

For Jesus Christ to appear to Paul on His way to murder Christians was amazing. However, Jesus did not leave Paul to himself but instead called out amid the noise in Paul’s life. Later, Paul would declare that God called Paul to Himself at God’s appointed time.

The mercy of Christ

The mercy of Christ shines through Acts 9. Paul knew he was a sinner; the Bible attests to this reality. Paul would later say, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:12-15). Paul never forgot what the Lord Jesus Christ forgave him of. Instead, he was forever grateful and humbled at the thought of the mercy of Christ.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he told Timothy, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). There is much grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. However, the abundance of mercy and grace is only for those in Christ Jesus.

Paul turned to the risen Lord in faith and repentance. He looked upon the resurrected Christ and was grieved over his sin. He laid hold of the Son of God as Christ reached out to him. Paul would later say, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Final prayer

Father, I thank You for the testimony of Paul. He persecuted the church and sought to destroy the early church. However, the gates of hell would not prevail. Christ showed up and revealed His glory to Paul. He showed Paul an abundant amount of mercy, and for that, I am thankful. I can see Your patience displayed in Paul’s life and the radical transformation that took place as well. Help me honor You in my life and be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. You have been faithful to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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