Today’s Reading: Acts 9:1-22
Daily Lectionary: Zech. 1:1-21, Romans 14:1-23
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3,4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. During Epiphany we celebrate that the light of Christ shines to people who are in darkness. Saul was immersed in that darkness. Blind to the truth, Saul “ravaged the church, entering house after house and dragging off men and women and putting them in prison (Acts 8:3).” Looking back at his behavior at this time, Paul told Timothy that he was “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
But Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. He could’ve struck Saul down to stop him —yet instead Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus so that He could bring Saul into His light. He condemned Saul’s actions with the simple words “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul realized he’d been fighting against God’s Messiah. Christ’s light had literally struck him blind.
Saul deserved punishment and damnation. But Jesus came to save sinners, including Saul. Jesus had died on the cross to take the punishment Saul had earned. When Saul regained his sight after 3 days, Ananias baptized him into Jesus. Instead of darkness, he now knew the light of the truth that Jesus is the Christ —he knew God forgave him of his crimes, and he had eternal life in Christ.
Such grace could not be held in silence. Saul went forth as Paul and preached Christ Jesus to Jews and Gentiles. He journeyed tirelessly to bring the light of Christ to those in darkness. He was a shining example of the grace of God: If God could save even him, the chief of sinners, God could save anyone — no matter what they had done.
Christ comes to you, just as he came to Saul. He calls you to repent, He washes away your sins in Holy Baptism, and He gives you eternal life completely by His grace. He stays with you throughout this life until He takes you home to heaven. May the peace of Christ that comforted Paul also be with you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following in the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
-Pastor Jeffrey Horn is Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Escondido, CA,
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.