#DailyDevotion Jesus Never Leaves Us Or Forsakes Us
Act 9:1-6 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest (2) and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (3) Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. (4) And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (5) And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (6) But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
So Saul had just finished taking care of St. Stephen, i.e. having put him to death and was going about putting other believers in Jesus Christ in prison. But that was not enough. Now we wanted to purify the Jewish faith of these people, everywhere. These people were going by “the Way” as Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. Saul was very zealous for the ways of his fathers and wasn’t going to let even the Sanhedrin’s former direction (to leave them alone and see if this is from God or from man) to stand. Indeed, you will find such hatred in those whose lives are threatened by the life of Jesus.
Now along the way Saul is struck down by a great light, a light from heaven. A voice says to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Now who is Saul persecuting? He is persecuting followers of the Way, i.e. Jesus. Saul is wondering this too? He recognizes the light is from heaven. It must be the Lord who is speaking to him. The voice lets him know in no uncertain terms it is Jesus whom Saul is persecuting. But Jesus is dead, how can Saul be persecuting Jesus? Of course we know, Jesus is risen and seated at the right hand of God in glory, power, and authority.
Now this gives us a great comforting biblical principle: Jesus and his followers are one. Jesus said, Mat 10:40-42 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. (41) The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. (42) And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Whatever happens to us, Jesus participates in and receives in his body as well.
This very Saul, now St. Paul would say, Eph 5:29-32 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (30) because we are members of his body. (31) ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ (32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The Church and every single believer in Jesus is one with Jesus. We are his bride. We are one body and one spirit with Jesus. Everything that is his is ours and everything that is ours is his. Whatever happens to Jesus happens to us and whatever happens to us happens to him. Therefore we have is comforting promise, “He never leaves us or forsakes us.” In world in which we will increasingly find ourselves opposed, sometimes even violently, for our faith in Jesus, this is a great comfort in time of need. Even when it looks like God has abandoned us, Jesus’ word, “It is Jesus whom you are persecuting” lets us know he is always with us no matter what we are experiencing. Our struggles are only temporary. His glory will last unto eternity, a glory he gives to us.
Heavenly Father, in every time of trouble, trials and tribulations help us to remember our oneness with Christ, that he is with us at all times, so we may be encouraged to stay faithful to him even as he is faithful to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.