Friday, October 18, 2013
The Persecution of Jesus
Acts 9:3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
Acts 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Acts 9:5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Acts 9:13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;
Acts 9:14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”
Paul had received permission to persecute the Christians. He traveled with the intention of hurting those who were calling on the name of Jesus and yet when Jesus confronts him on the road to Damascus, he challenges him with the question, "Why do you persecute me?" Jesus made it abundantly clear that Paul was directly persecuting Jesus when he attacked his followers. While Paul didn't look beyond the fact that he was persecuting people, the reality was that the pain was being inflicted on Christ himself.
I'm at the "Come to the Fire" Conference for just a few days to soak in the presence of the Lord! Last night Beth Coppedge brought a powerful message from the Lord where she reminded us that persecutions in life come -- that difficulties in life will be faced -- but in the midst of it all Jesus asks, "Am I worth it?" And this bring us to today's scripture -- for when the difficulties come we must remember that the attacks are against Jesus, and not us. When Jesus confronted Paul he didn't say, "I am Jesus whose people you are persecuting." No, he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Spiritual warfare is for real! There are battles that happen in the heavenly realms -- power plays and struggles that are beyond our comprehension. There may be times when we are caught in the grind of those struggles and we wonder what is happening. Beth brought us to the question last night -- "Is it worth it?" And the response is -- yes, for "He is worthy." "Is Jesus worth it?" Yes, so that the world may see the glory of God.
Our personal identity is not in ourselves or in our woundedness, instead, our identity is in Jesus. In the midst of that we can become filled with love for those who try to hurt us, because as we reflect the image, we are participating in Christ. Paul was persecuting Christ and Christ reached out to save Paul in love. Our identity is in Christ and our response is in him as well. Yes, suffering and pain is worth it, for he is the one who is worthy and we serve in faithfulness to him -- with ever greater participation in him -- responding as him, for we are in him and he in us. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Lord, may you be lifted up and glorified today. Amen.