Acts 22:4 “I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison.” (NIV)
I sin. You sin. We all sin. There’s not one of us perfect or sinless. We all have deep moments of regret or guilt from our past that we struggle with on a regular basis. To be sinful is to be human; to be perfect is to be Jesus, so none of us will ever reach that divine standard of sinlessness.
In today’s reading, (Acts 22:1-16) the Apostle Paul is addressing an angry mob in Jerusalem. They believe he is ruining their faith and they want to run him out of town. When Paul is given the opportunity to speak, he lets them know about his history. He is Jewish-born, has been educated by Gamaliel, one of the most renowned Jewish teachers of his day, and he has hunted down and sent Christians to their death.
What??? Was Paul involved in the persecuting and killing of Christians? The great apostle, who is still revered after almost two thousand years, was a killer of Christ’s people? How on earth did he get the job of being the missionary to the Gentiles? Why should we even read or listen to the words from such a sinful killer of Christ’s followers? Something must be wrong somewhere. God must have made a mistake.
No, there’s no mistake. It was Jesus who chose Paul on the road to Damascus. It was Christ who turned his life around and appointed him to the task. It was Jesus who decided that Saul the slayer of Christians could become Paul the preacher to Gentiles. Christ changed his life from one of defiance to one of obedience.
I sin. You sin. We all sin. We all need Jesus to save us from ourselves and to restore us to God’s favor. It’s His perfection that makes us holy. It’s His grace that forgives our past. It’s His mercy that gives us a new beginning and the opportunity to live for God and not ourselves. After all, if this was good enough for Paul, it’s more than good enough for us.
Point to ponder
What is my deepest regret? How can Christ release me from the past?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, even though we were sinners and enemies of God, You still came into the world to die for our sins and grant us the opportunity of forgiveness, renewal, and restoration. We thank You for this wonderful act of grace which still amazes us. In Your Holy Name, we thankfully pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make comments or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s Good Friday drawings called ‘Outside a City Wall.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Outside.