Monday: On the Damascus Road

Read Acts 9:3-9. What happened when Paul was approaching Damascus? What is the significance of Jesus’ words in Acts 9:5 (see also Acts 26:14)?

As Paul and his companions neared Damascus, the unexpected happened: about noon they experienced an intensely bright light from heaven and a voice speaking.

On the Damascus Road

Image © Pacific Press Publishing Assn.

This was not merely a vision in the prophetic sense but a divine manifestation, aimed somewhat exclusively at Paul. His companions saw the light; yet, only Paul was blinded; they heard the voice; yet, only Paul understood it. The light was the divine glory of the risen Jesus, who personally appeared to Paul at that moment (Acts 22:14). Elsewhere Paul insists that he had seen Jesus, which made him equal to the Twelve as a witness of His resurrection and apostolic authority (1 Cor. 9:11 Cor. 15:8).

The ensuing dialogue with Jesus struck Paul infinitely more than the light itself. Paul was absolutely convinced that, by attacking the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, he was doing God’s work in purifying Judaism from that dangerous and dreadful heresy. To his dismay, however, he learned not only that Jesus was alive but also that by inflicting suffering on His believers he was attacking Jesus Himself.

When speaking to Saul, Jesus used a proverbial saying supposedly of Greek origin that Paul certainly was familiar with: ”It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14, NKJV). The image is that of a yoke ox trying to move against the sharp stick used to guide it. When that happens, the animal only hurts itself even more.

This saying may point to a struggle in Paul’s mind—the Bible refers to this as the work of the Spirit (John 16:8-11)—that could go back to what happened with Stephen. “Saul had taken a prominent part in the trial and conviction of Stephen, and the striking evidences of God’s presence with the martyr had led Saul to doubt the righteousness of the cause he had espoused against the followers of Jesus. His mind was deeply stirred. In his perplexity he appealed to those in whose wisdom and judgment he had full confidence. The arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer, that the Christ whom the martyred disciple had preached was an impostor, and that those ministering in holy office must be right.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pages 112, 113.

Why is it wise to pay heed to your conscience?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons