It’s a famous story, possibly the most famous conversion experience of them all. Saul the implacable opponent of Christians, on his way to cause more trouble in Damascus, meets Jesus directly and his life changes forever. Even his name changes!
It’s a timeless story, and many of us will know of similar dramatic conversions happening in people that we know, or that we’ve read about. People who usually went on to become great sharers of God’s good news with others. These stories lift our spirits, and perhaps today is a good time to dig one of those out and spend a few minutes marvelling at God’s love and mercy, and his power to change the human heart.
But let’s also observe very simply today that Jesus meets Saul in light. There is a strong connection between light and truth in the bible, so the light is partly about Saul discovering the truth of who Jesus is. There’s also a connection between light and holiness – when Jesus is transfigured on the mountaintop, his three friends saw his clothes become ‘white as a flash of lightning’. St John has a similar experience of Jesus’ face ‘shining like the sun in all its brilliance’ at the start of his Revelation. So when Jesus meets the ruthlessly pure (or so he thought) Saul in a flash of light, suddenly Saul is confronted with the awesome purity, perfection and love of the Almighty.
‘Saul, why do you persecute me?’ Not my people – ‘me’. Jesus so identifies with his people that an attack on them is an attack on him. We may be fortunate to live in a time and a place when we are free to practise our faith. But it is still no small encouragement to know how much Jesus is for us. Our wellbeing, our safety, matters to him. Today may be a moment to claim that promise – perhaps there is something where you need Jesus to defend you at the moment. Ask him boldly – Jesus himself encourages it (Luke 11:5-13).
And Jesus still meets us in light now. The light of His word inspiring our minds; the light of his love warming our hearts. May that light be precious to us – and may it lift our hearts and minds today.