At the beginning of Acts 9, we’re given a startling picture of an angry young Jew who [contrary to the Torah] was feeling murderous. Although we catch a brief glimpse in Acts 7:58, this is our official introduction to Saul and the extent of his tyranny. The disciples knew him as someone who had ‘raised havoc in Jerusalem’ [Acts 9:21] attacking, harassing, imprisoning, and even killing followers of Yahshua. We meet him on his way to Damascus with formal letters from the High Priest authorising him, in essence, to create havoc there, too. As he approached the city, he was thrown to the ground as a bright light shone around him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me [harassing, troubling, and molesting Me]” cried a Voice [Acts 9:4, Classic Amplified]?
This well-known story documents the conversion of Saul and his complete change of lifestyle. I was particularly interested in the cry which arrested Saul and how Yahshua was so totally identified with His Church. The persecution of believers for their faith in Yahshua is still happening today. Most of us have been ostracised, suffering ridicule, bullying or cruelty at some point, and there are thousands of believers who, even today, are persecuted and even martyred for their faith. We can draw comfort from the knowledge that Yahshua experiences that as happening to Himself! The rejection, exclusion, hurt, victimisation - He feels that. He spoke of this principle in a parable: “I tell you the truth,” He said, “when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” [Matthew 25:40, New Living Translation].
We have a Royal Leader, always at the Head of His Church, which is also referred to as His Body! He is intimately connected with us; knows each member personally. We are those for whom He gave His life, the focus of His everlasting love. He reads our hearts, knows our hopes and fears, walks with us through every day, and has plans for our future. We can depend on Him.