Monday, August 23, 2010

Acts 9:19-31

Today’s reading tells the story of Saul (Paul) immediately after regaining his strength after his conversion. Obviously, those who had known Saul prior to his conversion were confused by his change. Christians, whom he had persecuted, were not sure what to make of him and did not immediately trust him. They thought he was trying to trick them in order to get close to them.

What kept Saul away from the gospel for so long? Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had believed, and it's certainly not unlikely that Saul had seen and heard Jesus personally as well. It is known, from his own words, that his deep commitment to Pharisaical Judaism caused him to choke at the mention of a Messiah from Nazareth. But beyond that, could it be that he simply could not get around the cross? Even if he had opportunity to observe a miracle or two and perhaps listen to Jesus' explanation of the Old Testament, which would have been impressive to an intelligent rabbi, the thought of a Messiah on the cross turned the stomachs of many Jews.

Does not the same problem plague unbelievers today? Many are happy to talk about God, even a personal God who, they anticipate, will welcome them into his heaven someday. The introduction of Jesus as the virgin-born Son of Mary complicates their thinking just a bit. By the time the gospel portrays him dying on the cross for the sins of the world, many now, as then, turn away from a suffering Savior.

I feel Saul (Paul) says it in his own words in his first letter to the Corinthians. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Wishing you much success in your walk with Christ,

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