Resentments: what a great way to separate us from the love of our Lord and Savior. What on earth does that have to do with the conversion of Saul? Think about this: who do you know who denies the existence of God? Who do you know who denies that Jesus was the son of God who came to save the world through His death and resurrection? Who do you know who lives his life in this fashion because something bad has happened to him or to someone he knows, or has not had the “break” in life to which he believes he is entitled? Enter Saul: the man who was trained by the best teachers of the law in Jerusalem – the center of Jewish worship. In Acts 7, Stephen, a follower of “the way” berated the members of the Sanhedrin, and was, as you can expect, ordered to execution. Even while they
stoned him to death, filled with the Holy Spirit, he asked God to forgive his murderers, just like Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him. This enraged Saul even more, for in his piety, forgiveness was hard to obtain.
Saul took it upon himself to eliminate the followers of “the way.” While on the journey to carry out his mission, Jesus met him – not physically, but spiritually – calling to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?” (Acts 26:14) The term, “kick against the goads” is a Greek proverb for useless resistance. Supposedly, the goads literally are spikes put on a moving plow to inflict pain on the ox if he kicked out while the farmer steered.
Obviously, this had not been the first time that Saul had either seen or heard of Jesus. It is the first time that Saul is directly mentioned in Scripture. It is very likely that Saul had seen Jesus on the Cross, and may have even witnessed Him post-resurrection. Despite all of this, it took Jesus himself on that road to open Saul’s heart to the truth of the Gospel. From that point on, we know Saul as Paul, and all the power and trappings that came with his position he turned his back on,for a life of hardship and suffering. 2 Corinthians 3:10, “For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.” Paul was to preach the Good News of the Cross and the Resurrection throughout the Roman empire. His fate was to die by spreading the word of Jesus, the very man whose message he once tried to end.