In this message we shall continue to consider the conversion of Saul (9:1-19).
As Saul drew near to Damascus, “suddenly a light from heaven shone around him; and he fell on the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (vv. 3-4). After he rose from the ground, he saw nothing, even though his eyes were opened (v. 8). For three days Saul was not able to see. The Lord not only took away his sight; He also dealt with Saul’s clever mind. We have seen that Saul was learned in Hebrew religion, Greek culture, and Roman politics. He was trained in the three basic elements of Western culture. In taking away Saul’s sight, the Lord Jesus wanted Saul to think about Him.
Acts 9:9 says that Saul “was three days without seeing, and neither ate nor drank.” What did he do during those three days? The answer to this question is found in the Lord’s word to Ananias recorded in verse 11: “Rise up and go to the lane called Straight, and seek in the house of Judas a man from Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying.” Here we see that in those three days Saul was praying. He did not see anything, and he did not eat or drink anything. All he could do was pray.
I believe that as Saul prayed he tried to analyze Jesus, seeking to know who He is. Saul may have said to himself, “I know that Jesus was buried, yet He spoke to me from heaven. How can this be? Jesus said that I was persecuting Him. How could He have been among those I persecuted?” For three days Paul must have prayed about matters such as these.
It is likely that as Saul was praying, vision after vision and revelation after revelation came to him concerning Christ and the church. His experience during those days may have been one of watching a heavenly television in which he saw many things concerning the Lord Jesus. As he saw these things, Saul may have said, “Jesus the Nazarene is Jehovah. He is my Savior. No wonder that His followers testified strongly that He was resurrected. He surely has been resurrected, for He appeared to me from the heavens.” Saul may have gone on to consider the Lord’s ascension, which implies His incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection. Saul may have come to realize that as the One who is now in the heavens, the Lord passed through the process of incarnation, human living, death, resurrection, and ascension.
We need to be impressed with the fact that for three days Saul did not eat or drink. All he did was pray. While he was praying, the revelation concerning Christ was “televised” into his being. Saul beheld a wonderful view of the Lord on this heavenly television. No longer did Saul have any doubt concerning Christ’s resurrection. He also came to believe in His incarnation and death. Through the visions that he saw during those days, Saul received the full message of the gospel.
Saul not only saw that Jesus is Jehovah, the Savior, who died and was resurrected; he also saw that the Lord Jesus is one with His followers. Perhaps Saul said to himself, “I did not persecute Jesus—I persecuted His followers. But He told me that I persecuted Him. This must mean that He is one with His followers.” In this way Saul came to see the Body. He heard a message not only concerning Christ’s salvation, but also concerning the Body of Christ. When the Lord appeared to Saul, He asked him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” The Lord seemed to be saying, “Saul, this ‘Me’ includes Me personally and My Body corporately. Personally I am in the heavens, but corporately the Body is on earth. When you persecuted My followers, you persecuted My Body. To persecute My Body is to persecute Me.” Therefore, the “Me” in 9:4 is corporate, comprising the Lord Jesus and all His believers.
According to 9:5, Saul said, “Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The “Me” in verse 4 and the name “Jesus” in verse 5 are of great significance, and Paul must have considered much concerning Jesus and this corporate “Me.” During those three days he might have analyzed the two words Me and Jesus.
When Paul said, “Who are You, Lord?” he must have gotten saved and received the essential Spirit. Later, in the book of Romans, he said, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). In Acts 9:5 Saul called Jesus Lord even without knowing Him. No doubt, Saul was shocked by the Lord’s appearing and speaking. At that time the essential Spirit should have entered into his being. Then he was able to pray for three days without eating and drinking. Under the inspiration of the essential Spirit, his only interest was to pray in order to know the significance of what he had seen and heard. During those days, Paul received the full gospel concerning salvation and the Body of Christ.
Saul’s experience of the corporate Me, Christ and the Body, must have made a deep impression on him and affected his future ministry regarding Christ and the church. That experience laid the foundation for his ministry. Therefore, he was very strong in teaching the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16; 4:4, 16). He is the only writer in the New Testament to use the term “the Body of Christ.” He placed great emphasis on the Body because at the time of his conversion he heard a message concerning the corporate Me, a message concerning the Body of Christ.
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