“And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
So here is Jesus confronting Saul on the road to Damascus, and as he does, Saul has this vision where he hears this voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And Saul says, “Who are you?” And Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Now what’s interesting is we don’t have any accounts of Saul persecuting Jesus. Instead, we have accounts of Saul persecuting followers of Jesus. That is what is so beautiful about the language here in Acts chapter nine. Because when you persecute followers of Jesus, you are persecuting Jesus. Jesus identifies with his people. Isn’t that an awesome picture?
We rejoice that we are united to Christ through His death and resurrection. We know that even when there are those who are against us, God is for us. He identifies with us.
Like when our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted around the world right now in North Korea, Somalia, Pakistan, different places in the world where they are being persecuted, Jesus identifies with them. It’s almost like when I think about my kids. Like if you were to try to harm my kids you would be harming me. You try to mess with my kids, you’re messing with me, right? That’s a picture of my relationship with them. I think about my older brother when he would stick up for me when we were growing up. And if anybody messed with me they’d be messing with him. He was much bigger than I was, and so it was good to have him on my side. So in this picture in Acts 9 realize that you belong to Jesus, Christian. That as a follower of Jesus he identifies with you. He is on your side. And when someone messes with you they’re messing with him. His spirit dwells in you. When someone persecutes you, they’re persecuting him.
Like he so identifies, this is a part of the picture that we see all over the New Testament of union with Christ. We no longer live, Christ lives in us. Christ is our life, which changes our perspective when we face trials, when we face persecutions and hardship because we know we’re not alone. Jesus is with us. And Jesus is committed to working for us.
So we pause and we pray then. Jesus, thank you. We see you even now with us. Your spirit in us. We think about Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We praise you that you are for us. So God I pray. I pray for people who are walking through persecution right now. God, I pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted. God, be their defender. Be their help. Be their strength. Be their peace. Help them in every way, oh God. We pray for your provision for our persecuted brothers and sisters right now. And God I pray for others who are walking through hardship and trial and suffering, maybe even suffering at the hands of others. God, please, please be their defender. Please be their strength. Please be their peace. Please be their hope, their joy. Please help them in every way they need. Jesus, we praise you that we are never alone, that you are always with us, that you identify with us. All glory be to your name. We praise you that you are our life. That our life is united with you. So help us to live like that today. Help us to live with no fear, with peace, with rest, with joy, with confidence, with courage, with wisdom for you are our life. Oh, Jesus, we praise you for union with you. And God we pray that you would help us to realize all the ramifications to experience all that that means. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
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