By Joseph Ametepe
"Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? And he said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do?'" (Acts 9:1-6).
Another obvious spiritual lesson from the story of Saul's dramatic conversion is that Jesus, the Risen Lord, is indeed alive.
Recently, God gave me the opportunity of sharing the gospel with a man who said to me that he does not believe in the Bible. He does not believe in life after death. In fact, he was very bold in telling me that "this life is all we've got." Also, he said, he does not need a Savior because he does not sin. "I don't need a Savior because I don't sin." I was shocked to hear that. Anyway, I asked him if he knew any other person like him who does not sin. He said to me, "I haven't taken a poll to see how many there are out there." I had to laugh at that. I shared with him that if he is genuinely seeking to know the truth, I am convinced that God will show him the truth. He told me, "If I have evidence that the Bible is true, then I will change my whole way of life to its truth." I asked him to tell God what he thinks of the Bible and life after death and be sincere with Him. I also added that he should tell God that if he is wrong, then he should prepare his heart to accept the truth God would show him. A week later, I met him again, and he told me that he did what I had advised him to do, but "nothing happened." By then, I had learned afresh from Paul's life, that Jesus is the evidence that the Bible is true. Jesus is the evidence that there is life after death. And that Jesus is the evidence that people are sinners who desperately need a Savior. So I told him that the evidence he is looking for is Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). I prayed with him asking Jesus to reveal Himself to him. I am trusting that Jesus will do so to honor His name and save this man. I believe that Jesus is willing to demonstrate the reality of who He is to those who are sincerely seeking the truth, and even to those who oppose Him, as in the case of Saul.
Saul's encounter with Jesus, the Risen Lord, on the road to Damascus proved that Jesus is alive. The encounter transformed him. But it also taught him a truth that he was never shy to proclaim. That is, Jesus is alive. In fact, Paul asserted this teaching (see Acts 25:19). It dominated his mind. For him, everything about the Christian faith, hinged on this truth: Jesus is indeed alive. Please notice Jesus' response to Paul's (Saul's) question, "Who are You, Lord?" The Risen Lord was very emphatic in stating that He is indeed alive. "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." The expression "I am" is rendered in the Greek as "ego eimi." As a predicate, "eimi" also means "to be," " to exist." Here, it is used of God. So the Risen Lord, is simply saying to Saul, "Saul, understand this. I exist. I am the Existing One. I am alive. I am the Living One. I am He who lives. That is who I am. Let that be known to You!"
This was no doubt a shocking revelation to Saul. It was a revelation that needed much time to sink in. Saul knew of Jesus' death in Jerusalem. But he didn't know of his resurrection, that is, he didn't know of the reality of Jesus being alive. Even if he heard it from others, it didn't take root in his mind, let alone in his heart. Certainly, he heard Stephen's bold declaration: "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 8:56). He also heard Stephen cried out before his death saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" (Acts 8:59). But these words, went into one ear and came out of the other. But now, as Saul fell to the ground on the road to Damascus, for the first time in his life, he faced the reality of a living Jesus.
I believe what the world needs today is the reality of a living Jesus. Jesus is alive. This is not just a nice cliché. It is the foundational truth of the Bible. It is what makes Christians unique. We belong to a living Savior. We believe in a living Lord. We are blessed to know that our Lord and Savior is indeed alive. He will be with us through all our life's journey on earth. He will be our defense. He will be our shield. He will be our support. He will be our strength. He will be our song. He will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. He holds our future.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, are you walking in the reality of a living Jesus? Are worshiping a living Jesus? Are you waiting on a living Jesus? Are you working with a living Jesus? Are you witnessing for a living Jesus? Are you watching for the return of a living Jesus? Oh, may the Holy Spirit give us a fresh vision of a living Jesus to put a spring in our step to worship Him with exuberance in spirit and truth, to walk with Him with a whole and surrendered heart, to wait on Him eagerly, to work with Him in a joyful spirit, to be His witnesses, and watch expectantly for the return of the Living One!