"Today in Acts chapter 25 to chapter 28 verse 31 Paul was put on trial after being kept in prison by the Roman Governor for two years. Jewish leaders put pressure on the Governor to take the trial to Jerusalem, but Paul refused to go and successfully appealed to Caesar. However, this appeal resulted in Paul remaining a prisoner and being sent to Rome. Despite the ship he was on being wrecked, Paul eventually arrived in Rome, fulfilling God’s plan to bring the message of salvation to the great city." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
Paul said this in part standing in court before the Roman authorities.
I once thought that I should do everything I could to oppose Jesus from Nazareth. I did this first in Jerusalem, and with the authority of the chief priests I put many of God's people in jail. I even voted for them to be killed. I often had them punished in our meeting places, and I tried to make them give up their faith. In fact, I was so angry with them, that I went looking for them in foreign cities. (Contemporary English Version)Paul tells them that he tried to get the followers of Jesus to denounce Jesus. To publicly turn away from him and his resurrection. Some did, but some didn't, and he goes on to say that he had those who wouldn't denounce Jesus, killed. "I tried to make them give up their faith" but they wouldn't even under the threat of death.
Perhaps for Paul watching these believers die over and over again, unwilling to say Jesus was not the Messiah, was one of the things that sat uneasy with his intellect and reason. It didn't make sense, why wouldn't they just give up on this guy and save their own lives.
So many of these followers could not give in even in the face of death. They knew Jesus. They saw his miracles. They saw his empty tomb and perhaps even were among those who saw him after he came out of the tomb. They knew he had to be God's son. They knew in their minds and hearts. Their lives had been changed. Their feelings of guilt were gone. They acted different. They were different people. How could they turn away from their God? Maybe for Paul seeing this over and over again as he tried to compel and even beat these followers into giving up on Jesus as the Messiah, he began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah.
Then Jesus spoke directly to Paul and his mad, violent, upside down world was turned around. His obsession was gone. He completely understood why. Everything changed.
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.
About the photo in this post: This sculpture is at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on West Avenue at Madison, Wisconsin and titled "Damascus Illumination". It was created by Paul Granlund in 1967 out of bronze. This dramatic two part sculpture illustrates the conversion experience of the Apostle Paul. The angel is attached to the south wall of the church entrance while Saul seems to fall to the ground while looking upward.