The original title of this sermon is The Encounter.
Our text comes from Acts 9:1-9
vs.1 We last hear of Saul at the beginning of Acts 8. He was going through the city of Jerusalem, kicking in doors and ripping people out of their homes. He was delighting in persecuting anyone who was a follower of Jesus.
Saul was like an enforcer. Hunting down followers of Jesus and persecuting them was his nature. He identified with it. He was blood thirsty. So blood thirsty in fact that he was not satisfied with the blood of a few disciples – he wanted them all.
Saul was not content with persecuting just the disciples in Jerusalem. He wanted to take his rampage beyond the gates of the city. By persecuting followers of Christ, Saul believed that he was truly serving God. The leaders of the temple thought Jesus was a blasphemer. They definitely did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus was not what they viewed a Messiah to be.
vs 2 Saul went to the high priest for formal letters. These documents were his permission to go to Damascus, find men and women who were followers of Christ and tie them up and drag them back to Jerusalem.
It is very evident that Saul knew about Jesus. He was very active in persecuting those who identified with Jesus. Saul knew about Jesus but he didn’t know Jesus.
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There is a difference between knowledge and encounter.
There are many people today both in and out of churches that have knowledge of Jesus but they have never had an encounter with Jesus.
vs 3 Damascus was 135 miles NE of Jerusalem. Six days of travel by foot. Saul was relentless in his desire to want to persecute Christians.
vs 4 The Encounter
It did not matter – the things in Saul’s past, his education level, his wealth…Jesus confronted Saul anyway. Jesus removed Saul from those who influenced him and from what he knew. Jesus brought Saul to the end of himself. Jesus speaks to Saul with an urgent intensity.
vs 5 Notice Saul does not answer the charge Jesus brings against him. Conviction of sin, when set at home with power that weighs down on both your heart and conscience – will silence all excuses and self – justification.
Saul did not know Jesus. “Who are you, Lord?”
vs 6 We are not going to leave you abandoned. We will guide you and lead you. We will disciple you – teach you how to be a follower of Jesus.
vs 7-9 Saul enters into a dark night of the soul.