Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”
He replied, “Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
“Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.
Then he said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’
Who are you Lord? I am the one you are persecuting. Do we see Jesus in each other? Are we aware that what we do to each other we do to him? This statement can apply to much more than just Paul and the severe treatment he gave the believers prior to this experience. This statement of Jesus’ can apply to our everyday manner of treatment of those around us, especially believers. Yet often it is believers who are the ones guilty of some of the worst treatment of other believers. Do we wish to hurt the heart of God? Any with children can testify to how much it hurts when our children are mean to each other, rather than acting in love. We must overcome these actions with the help of the Lord. We will find ourselves with a mission as Paul received and that does not include meanness toward our fellow believers.
We have assignments. We are given responsibility with the gift of salvation. Are we faithful to the one who gave us the gift of salvation? Are we faithful to the one who is faithful to us?