When Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to provide his defense, Paul chooses to defend Christ rather than himself. He makes no mention of the Jewish charges being brought against him. He does not try to justify his ministry. He chooses to defend Christ by recounting the narrative of his conversion to demonstrate that it was the risen Savior – Jesus Christ – who was at work in Paul, and not the will of mere human reasoning.
As Paul is sharing the story of when he met Jesus, he recalls two important questions that he asked Jesus:
Acts 22:8 (CSB) — 8 “I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’
The first question that he asked Jesus is, “who are you?”
The Risen Savior cannot be recognized unless he is first revealed. After Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to his disciples, they did not recognize him until he revealed himself to them. Likewise, Paul did not recognize the very one that he was persecuting, showing that he did not understand who he was persecuting. In this question we hear Jesus’ own words upon the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!”
Here we also find one of the most comforting truths of the gospel: Jesus told Paul that it was him whom Paul persecuted. Paul – known at that time as Saul – set out on the Damascus road with letters to kill Christians, and he thought that was his mission. But Paul was really persecuting Christ, the one whose Holy Spirit personally dwells in us. Whenever Paul killed even the least of Christ’s disciples who kept his word and remained in his love, Paul was directly persecuting Jesus Christ of Nazareth – a man who Paul did not understand or know.
Knowing Jesus changes everything.
However, there are many who profess to know Jesus, but they do not:
Titus 1:15–16 (CSB) — 15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
Philippians 3:18–21 (CSB) — 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.
Those who are defiled in their mind and in their conscience – who live as enemies of the cross by their self-indulgent lifestyles – do not know Jesus Christ! They have exchanged the sacrifice of the cross for the pleasures of this world; they pursue luxury, comfort, and carnal pleasures rather than the joys that are to be found in the presence of Jesus Christ!
Herein is one of the flaws of our time: Jesus cannot be known unless you walk with Jesus, but many walk contrary to the way of Christ and think that they can still know him! But there can be no fellowship between the Light and darkness.
Paul – having Christ revealed to him – now asks a second question:
Acts 22:10 (CSB) — 10 “I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that you have been assigned to do.’
The second question that he asks Jesus is “what should I do?” Once someone understands who Jesus is – Jesus being the King of kings and Lord of lords – they will understand that he comes with a purpose. Paul asked this question because he knew that his new Lord required something of him – his life – and he wanted to know what he was supposed to do now.
All too often we confess Jesus as our Lord and then live like nothing has changed. We don’t expect our Lord to make any demands of our life. But Paul knew that everything had changed for him. Now, to Paul, for him to go on living was to live for Christ and to die was gain. No longer did Paul live to please himself – that is, his fleshly desires – but he lived to please his Lord because in the presence of the Lord are the joys of the Holy Spirit!
Now is the time for you to ask, “what should I do, Lord?”
Acts 3:26 (CSB) — 26 God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”
Galatians 3:27 (CSB) — 27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.
Galatians 5:16 (CSB) — 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.
In the forgiveness of Christ’s blood and sacrifice, you must confess your sins and turn away from your previous way of life to live with Christ in the newness of his life. Cut off those things that are opposed to God, and grow in those things that come from him!
Be baptized into Christ so that you may be clothed by God with Christ! Then you will be dressed in his righteousness and arrayed in the splendor of holiness so that you may enter into the presence of God forever!
And live by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Walk in him by faith, being fully assured of Christ’s promise, and grow in the new life that you have through the Holy Spirit.
Have you asked, “who are you, Lord?”
Have you asked, “what should I do, Lord?”
6 Replies to “Who Are You, Lord? Acts 22:8”
I posted a comment and it has disappeared. Does every comment go to moderation first.
All new comments go to moderation, but I have approved you. Can you check and see if you see it because I approved one of your comments, so they should all be good now.
I will also check my filters.
Lots of People want to keep the name, “Christian” and might even read a few passages feeling guilty they haven’t in a long time (which might be a good sign.) BUT, they have no intention of doing what God says. They wanted the free ride, the salvation, but didn’t want God.
Those people won’t see it that way. You who ever you are might not see it that way.
One of the key things is that you lose contempt for God and others. Rather than treating others as garbage, and God as someone on a shelf, the distance of relationship closes when you become soft toward God and others, willing to listen, willing not to get your way, to lose once in a while for others. This tenderness is the sort of thing that leads to repentance to being sorry we have sinned. A Godly Sorry, a lowering of defences, and willingness to give up what we do so we could know God. This is the key.
But still we know its more than just God drawing us. its also our greed that we want the gift of eternal life. And that might get us interested in it all but we need to be Adults and learn that the relationship Jesus Christ wants us to have with him and with others is worth it all on its own. That in spite of a desire to live for self, the realization that there is a better way, Gods way, is the Adult thing to do.
Some will live that chased life and still not know God because, they will do it their way and haven’t “died” to themselves and gave God control, they just control themselves very well. That sharing is the sort of thing Good Marriages made out of.
You might want to keep the name “Christian” but if you are not in love, not married to God. You got to give the name back.
Sigh, I’m really sorry! This comment did get stuck in the spam filter – it didn’t even go into my “pending” filter – and I don’t know why because you didn’t put any links or anything like that in your comment.
Amen to your comment. I think it took me a long time in my spiritual journey to learn the love of Christ. But you are right, those who do not walk in love, do not walk with Christ. My sermon, which I posted as an exposition on Acts 26, looked at Paul’s last defense before Agrippa and how his testimony was designed by God to display the glories of Christ’s mercy. This is the light that must illumine our heart!
LOVE here, from disqus….
This was put together nicely:)
And questions I asked in the beginning of my walk, and do ask when direction is needed!
What should I do Lord? Where do you need me. Sometimes its just to sit and be still, and others its to move.
Right now, he has me sitting still. Though it is getting time for me to get back to work, and that question still being asked. What should I do Lord? Where do you need me most?!
And I am still waiting for an answer. Patiently:)
Thank you for this! His Timing is always perfect;)
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Awesome! So glad to see you over here.
Sometimes we have to learn how not to take control and trust God to bring us where we need to be and show us the answers. 😀
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