URC Daily Devotion Monday 14th November 2022

 

Monday 14th November 2022
Acts 26: 12-18

‘With this in mind, I was travelling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, when at midday along the road, your Excellency, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions.  When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.”  I asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The Lord answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.  I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Reflection

This is the third version of this story in Acts!  Paul, a long term prisoner in Caesarea, is giving his defence to King Agrippa (plus Festus, Bernice, military tribunes and all prominent men of the city).  King Agrippa’s great grandfather tried to kill the infant Jesus, his grandfather killed John the Baptist and judged Jesus, his father had the apostle James executed – and he is the last of the Herodian dynasty. Clearly an enemy of the gospel by family tradition. Paul responds to this very different audience by finding a new emphasis in the story.

Paul travelled with a mind full of rage against the Christians, and with authority and a commission from the chief priests to persecute this new faith.  Yet he receives new authority and a new commission from Jesus.  He sees the brightest light and is sent to the people living in darkness (Gentiles – his current audience) to bring God’s light.

This is Paul’s summary – good news to the Gentiles: ‘that they turn from darkness to light ….may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Jesus).’  He is condensing all he has learnt about being a follower of Christ into his account of his actions, telling the story to save his listeners, including ‘your Excellency’, when he could be saving himself.

‘It hurts you to kick against the goads’ – this striking phrase is new to this telling. Farmers used goads (slender pieces of wood or iron with a sharp end) to get a stubborn oxen to move – if it kicked back it would cause itself pain.  Apparently a common expression in Greek and Latin literature, this is Christ’s metaphor – perhaps for Paul’s conscience being pricked by his experience of the Christians he was persecuting, such as the grace and mercy of Stephen at his death, despite which he stubbornly continued his persecution.  Here is Paul trying to prick the conscience of Agrippa – you will have to read on to see the outcome!

Prayer

Open our eyes Lord – we want to see Jesus.
Open our ears Lord – we want to hear your call on our lives.
Open our mouths Lord – we want to tell of your love, mercy and grace.
Open our hearts Lord – we need to love and seek the transformation of our enemies.
Open our lives Lord – we need goading into action.

 

 

Today’s writer

Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, Messy Church Chalgrove.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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