2000-11-16 - Protecting His Bride
Acts 9:1-6 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." (NAS)
The story of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus is well known. In a flash of light, Saul is confronted by Jesus Christ Himself and turned from the mission of stamping out the Gospel to becoming one of its strongest adherents. Pastor Harry pulled out an interesting facet.
As Jesus confronts Saul, Jesus asks Saul why he was persecuting Jesus. Well, Saul didn't believe Jesus was still alive. He was persecuting these Christians who believed this impossible story that Jesus was still alive. They were a threat to Judaism and had to be reigned in and returned to the fold or destroyed. I find it interesting that the Jews were supposed to be expecting a Messiah and when someone claimed that He had come they were considered dangerous. If they were right, it was time to pop the Champaign corks. If they were wrong, they would figure it out sooner or later and probably feel pretty silly to boot. But Jesus takes personally this persecution of His church, His bride.
Rev 19:7-9 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (NAS)
The church, those who have accepted Jesus as Savior/Messiah, are to be the bride of Jesus Christ. Not that the marriage itself has taken place. That day is coming, soon. But, as in Jesus' day, a betrothal was as binding as a marriage and took a divorce decree to break the union. Since Jesus has promised He will never leave us or forsake us, I guess it is a done deal. He sees our relationship to Himself as nothing less. So, the church is the bride and Saul has been attacking the bride. Like any husband would, Jesus steps in and takes the offense personally. We are also called God's children. I can tell you that both illustrations would render the same results from my heart. If you mess with my wife or my kids, you mess with me. Jesus reasons with Saul, who certainly felt he was doing the will of God, and gently bur firmly shows him the error of his ways.
Heb 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NAS)
Saul's attack was an attack from outside the church. There are equally destructive attacks from inside the church as well. This should be a warning to us with regard to our conduct toward each other. Jesus surely doesn't want us beating on one another any more than He wants problems coming from outside the body of the church. When the disciples would quibble over who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God, Jesus quickly settled the issue with a picture they could not mistake. He took a bowl of water, stripped Himself down to a towel and washed their feet. He took on the form of a servant, a menial servant, and told them to wash each other's feet.
We are supposed to be a light to the world. What we have is a treasure stored up in these clay pots that are our bodies. Too many of the pots are cracked one might say with a touch of humor and a touch of seriousness. We have all been forgiven tremendous debts we could never begin to pay. Joy should flow from a heart of gratitude, not discontent and anger. The light should consist of joy and love from a forgiven heart and a spirit freed from bondage to sin and death.
John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (NAS)
Lord Jesus - Help us to be the beacons of light and love that You would have us to be. If we will not care for one another, we will become a house divided that can not stand. You have built the house on the bedrock of Your love and forgiveness. Show us that we can be a lighthouse to a lost and dying world. Amen.
Grace & Peace,