The Conversion of Saul: Acts 9:3-9
“3) As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4) and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5) And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6) but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7) The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8) Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9) And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭3‬-‭9‬ ‭
The conversion of Saul was accompanied by a direct visitation from Jesus. As he traveled, he was confronted by a blinding bright light, and Jesus called him by name and confronted him.
This was not unlike the voice that spoke to Moses from the burning bush and said; “Moses, Moses.” (Exodus 4:4) Saul was very familiar with the story. It marked the call of Moses.
The bright light was undoubtedly in keeping with the words of John 1:4; 8:12; and 1 John 1:5. Jesus is the light of the world. God is light and in Him there is no darkness. The glorified Christ was speaking to Saul.
The question was very personal and to the point; “Why are you persecuting me?” It was a profound question that Saul did not answer. Instead, he asked; “Who art thou Lord?” He was not prepared for the reply; “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
Technically, Saul was not among those who crucified Christ, but he was leading the persecution against the followers of Jesus. We are reminded that whatever is done to the least of those who follow Jesus, is done to Him! (Matthew 24:40; 45) Those who persecute a follower of Jesus are persecuting Him!
Saul never did answer the question as to why he was persecuting Christians. Jealously, rage, hatred and prejudice are not rational. They are driven by emotions and not reason. Saul had no reply.
The people traveling with Saul heard the voice but saw no one. Saul was knocked to the ground by the appearance of the Christ. This might qualify for what some call “slain in the spirit.” The visitation was directed to Saul and not his traveling companions.
Paul was three days in his blind state and neither ate nor drank. This appearance had a profound affect on Saul. He related it in his testimony both in Acts 22 and Acts 26. I am sure he shared it numerous times. It was his story.
Some say the conversion of Saul was unique. They maintain that “Jesus no longer works that way today.” But Jesus is speaking to many in dreams and visions today. Joel 2:28-29 appears as common now at the end of the church age as it was at the beginning. (See Acts 2:14-21)
We witnessed it happen in the jungles of Peru several years ago with a tribal leader the night before we arrived to share the gospel. As we approached the village, the leader met us and said; “Jesus appeared to me in a dream last night and told me that white people were coming to tell me about the gospel. He told me I needed to repent and follow Him.” Nearly the entire village came to Jesus. The leader shared his story at a village gathering that evening.
We ended the meeting by praying for people to be healed. One woman came for prayer who had a large tumor. It was so big she looked pregnant from her side. She was begging for money to go to Iquitos for surgery. Our missionary host said; “we do not have money for travel or surgeries, but we will have a prayer service tonight and we will pray for your healing!” She was the first in line for prayer. Initially, nothing happened, but then at 3:00 AM she was miraculously healed. The tumor was gone. She woke up the entire village as she ran from hut to hut yelling; “Glory to God, Jesus has healed me!” It was a glorious night.
Numerous reports are surfacing of both Muslims and Hindus coming to faith because Jesus is appearing to them in vivid dreams and visions. The impact is as profound as what happened to Saul in this story in Acts 9:3-9. These are days of great harvest. It is almost like the urgency of the gospel is being compressed today. God is again working in extraordinary ways.
But God expects us to actively participate in the Great Commission. Romans 10:8-15 clearly states that God’s usual approach is to send messengers to share the gospel. According to Acts 1:8, He empowers every believer with the Holy Spirit for effective witnessing. Nothing compares to being in the delivery room when a person is born-again by the Spirit of God. Every testimony is extraordinary.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global