In Acts 9, we learn of a man called Saul of Tarsus, one of the most religious men who ever lived. He could boast, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” What was his story?

Saul was a devout Jewish man whose family strictly adhered to law and tradition. We see him here in chapter nine on his way to Damascus, seeking to destroy the new Christians who were disrupting the religious world. He was so full of hatred toward Jesus and his followers that he fiercely and doggedly tracked down and persecuted Christians, even going after them outside Jewish territory. He was focused and deadly serious about his mission.

Consider God’s action. Saul was headed toward Damascus, and suddenly he was engulfed by a blinding light from heaven. He was terrified and confused. Why was this happening? Was God trying to make him feel guilt and condemnation? Was this the end of the road for Saul? Was God going to pour down wrath and judgment upon him for persecuting his people? No, God let down the light to get Saul’s attention because he was planning to make a profound and life-changing announcement. As a trembling Saul waited for judgment, he instead heard the voice of mercy. The Lord told Saul that the terrible things he had done to persecute the Christians was forgiven and that all of his sins were covered.

Surely Saul did not see that coming! Picture him lying flat on the ground in the blinding light and hearing the voice of Jesus. Instead of hearing condemnation from a holy God for the path he was on, he heard, “I am Jesus!” There was not a word about Saul’s wickedness. Why? Because the one he persecuted was his greatest friend. The Lord even changed Saul’s name to Paul to cement this permanent change in his mind and in the minds of everyone he knew.

Beloved, this same Jesus offers us the same mercy. Deserving judgment and denunciation, we hear him say, “I am Jesus, your Redeemer.” Thank him this day for the mercy he has shown you.