Paul often refers to himself as “the prisoner of Christ Jesus.” In Ephesians 4:1, he says being a prisoner of the Lord is actually his vocation, his calling! He considered this God’s gift of grace to him (see Ephesians 4:7).
Paul wrote to Timothy: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8, NKJV). Even into his old age, the apostle rejoiced in having been apprehended by the Lord and taken captive to his will. “Yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you – being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:9).
Paul could tell you the very hour that the Lord handcuffed him and took him captive. He was on the road to Damascus with letters in hand from the high priest, bound and determined to bring back Christians to Jerusalem. He was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1), full of hatred, bitterness and anger in his misguided zeal for God.
As he approached the city of Damascus, “suddenly a light shone around him from heaven” (Acts 9:3). He was struck completely blind by that light, which was Christ. Paul testified again and again how he had to be taken by the hand and led into Damascus, a helpless prisoner. He spent three days in an isolated room without sight and without eating anything. He’d been taken captive in spirit, soul, mind and body.
What happened in that room for three days? The Lord was handcuffing Saul and transforming him into Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ!
In this vivid scene, Paul lets go of his independence and submits to Christ’s yoke. He stretches forth his hands to Jesus to be handcuffed for life. You can almost hear his agonizing prayer: “O, Lord, I thought I was doing your will. How could I have been so blind? I’ve been going my way, doing whatever I thought was right. I can’t trust my own thoughts.”
My prayer is “Here, Jesus, take my hands and put your manacles on me. Take me prisoner to your will and lead me wherever you want me to go. Keep me handcuffed to your mighty right arm!”