“Brothers and esteemed fathers,” Paul said, “listen to me as I offer my defense.” When they heard him speaking in their own language, the silence was even greater. Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the followers of the Way from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished. “As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
(Acts of the Apostles 22:1-7 NLT)
I only wish I could have cited verses 1-23 in today's devotional (take a moment to read it). Paul recounts, in the people's own language (Hebrew or Aramaic), his personal testimony of how he came to know Jesus as his Savior and Lord! His testimony before them was in hope that they would clearly see how he, previously, was a devout follower of Judaism (the Jewish faith) and persecuted the faith that he now followed (Jesus Christ). He, meticulously, spoke about his being a part of Stephen's stoning and his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus to persecute and jail the followers of Jesus. He even told them that their leaders knew him and that they were the ones who gave him the authority to travel to Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus. He shared how he was struck blind on the road there and how Ananias, a devout Jewish believer in Jesus had laid his hands on him to restore his sight. He went on to describe how he was baptized and went back to Jerusalem. He described what happened as he was praying in the Temple. He was told, by Jesus, to leave Jerusalem because his message of Jesus would not be received. When he told them that he was told to go preach this message to the Gentiles, the crowd violently erupted as they shouted "Away with such a fellow! He isn't fit to live!". They cast off their coats, and threw handfuls of dust in the air in disgust. Nevertheless, Paul was faithful to share Jesus.
I don't know about you, but I have never had to deal with this kind of rejection and hostility. May God grant, to me, the willingness and the boldness to share Jesus with everyone no matter what he risks. In fact, my life isn't worth living if I do not share Jesus with others. He is the way to eternal life! There is no other option!
Rev. Curtis Norris