Acts 22:1-21 (Pastor Heo)
[Background from last week (chp 21). After Paul was arrested and being carried to the barracks, he decided: NOW was the time to share his story.]
1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.” 2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
3 Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8 ” ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
9 ” ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 ” ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
11 ” ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking. ‘Quick!’ he said to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
19 ” ‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
In the Bible, Paul is the only person whose conversion experience is repeated more than once. (Here, chp 22, and chp 26).
Paul is calling the people who arrested him, beat him, and tried to kill him as, “brothers and fathers.” How is this possible? He was filled with the HS. The HS makes us gentle, kind, meek, etc.
“Listen to my defense” – in Greek (apollo gia) – from this Greek word “apologize / apologetics.” In seminary, there is the “study of reasonable, logical Christian faith and doctrine” – Apologetics – and we are all apologists (defenders of the Christian doctrine).
Paul’s defense is paradoxical. It emphasizes two different things.
1. Stresses his Identification
(and commonality with those he wishes to evangelize)
v. 2-5 (He identifies himself with the crowd)
For example: “Yes, my practical language is Aramaic, I’m a Jew, I grew up here, I was educated under Gamaliel – whom you all respect (one of the greatest scholars of that time), and I was once zealous for God as you are today – but wrongly. I persecuted Christians once as you are now persecuting me. I arrested them, as you are arresting me. I was like you at one time.”
2. Emphasized the difference between himself and the crowd
“I met Jesus. I was converted and the conversion was not an issue of defection, but divine intervention. I met Christ, the God of the Jews and the Gentiles, the God of all people.”
“Even though I’m in this world, Jesus has set me apart and consecrated me for a special purpose.”
I’m the same as you, but I’m different from you.
- This is also our identification
- without loss of our identity.
- Also Christ was identified with us
- without loss of his identity.
This is the key point, main idea, given to us in this text.
“Jesus is like me” – born as a full man, lived in a particular part of history, with a birthday and birth place – born as a boy baby in a real time, way, through a real human mother. He grew up in wisdom and stature as human beings do. He was subject to the ordinary laws of human development in body and soul. He possessed a human nature, was subject to human weakness and infirmaries (he had to eat, sleep, rest – experienced hunger, sickness, pain, etc). He exposed himself to all kinds of temptations we experience today.
- Hebrews 2:18 “Jesus suffered when he was tempted, so he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
- “We do not have a High Priest with is unable to sympathize with us – he was tempted as we are in every way, yet was without sin.”
That’s why he can empathize with us fully because he experienced these things.
- “Jesus is different from me.” – fully God.
- “Jesus is God.”
- “Jesus is full God.”
There are 5 things to share as evidence of Jesus’ divinity.
1. Divine titles are given to Christ
He’s called “Son of God”, Savior, Lord, Alpha and Omega, First and Last. But more importantly, he is called directly “God.”
The English word “Lord” is translated from Greek “cureos” is translated from Hebrew “adonai” which means “God.”
“Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
2. Divine worship is ascribed to him
Who are you worshiping now?
Jesus himself says, “Worship belongs to God alone.”
- In the temptation of Christ, Satan tempted him, “If you bow down and worship me, I’ll give you all these things.”
- Jesus refused and quoted Scripture: “Go away from me, it is written, ‘Worship God alone.'”
“At the name of Christ, all knees should bow and all tongues confess that Christ is Lord.”
All creation, all angels, spiritual beings, all humans will worship Christ. This means, he is “God.”
3. He possesses qualities and properties of divinity
Before Creation of the world, he IS. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Before the foundation of the universe, I AM.
John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
2. He has self-existence and life-giving power
John 1:1 “In him was Light and the light was life giving.”
Jesus says, “I’m Life.” – this means he is self-existent outside our life. All life has its source in Christ.
3. He possesses immutability
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
All Creation changes – the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, you and me. Only God is unchangeable, immutable in his character, power, wisdom, etc. Only God is unchangeable. And Jesus is unchangeable. “He is…” God.
The fullness of diety dwells in Christ
The very essence and nature of God are in Christ.
4. Divine jobs are ascribed to Christ
- What is your job? Everybody has a job.
- Man has man’s job, God has God’s job.
- What is the business of God?
Can you create something out of nothing? No. Only God is creator. Jesus is Creator of the universe.
John “Through Christ, all things were created. All that has been made has been made through him and finds its being in him.”
The Creation is the revelation of Christ’s mind, wisdom, power, and might.
He is sustainer of all things, keeper of all things, before all Creation, and in him, all things hold together.
Hebrews: “Christ is the exact representation of God’s glory and sustaining all things through his powerful word.”
Jesus’ powerful word causes all things to hold together.
The pulse (in your heart) of life is regulated and controlled by the throbbing of the mighty heart of Christ – creator, sustainer, forgiver.
He alone has the right and authority to forgive sins. But forgiveness of sin is the right of only God.
He does not merely say, “You’re forgiven” but he actually, actively forgives our sins.
“The blood of Christ purifies our sins.”
5. He raises the dead
This is the job of God. But Jesus repeats this several times in the book of John, “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live though he die… And I will raise them up in the final day.”
6. He is the judge over all Creation
These are the jobs of God:
- Raiser of the Dead
Through these jobs, we can know that Jesus is God.
1. Omnipotent (All powerful)
“All authority, all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” – Jesus
We know the storm (typhoon) obeyed Christ. All Creation obeys Christ – this means he has all power and authority on earth – also in heaven, and also in hell – even Satan obeys Christ.
2. Omniscience (all-knowing)
He knows all and sees all – past, present, and future.
He does not learn this knowledge by study – he simply knows everything through immediate perception.
Jesus knows all realities, possibilities, all potential, all happenings, all motives, all thoughts, all secrets, all mysteries. He knows what you are thinking – he knows our hidden motives. He knows, and we have nothing to hide from the sight of God.
3. Omnipresence (everywhere at once)
He fills all things at all times – he is in all men, all evangelists, all missionaries, all Creation.
“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, so go and make disciples of all nations. And behold, I am with you always until the end of the Age.” (Great Commission)
Jesus is the same as us, but also different.
Also, Paul is explaining this to the men in Jerusalem.
Also, we are the same as this.
We have certain similarities with others, non-believers – membership cards, skills, passions, workplaces, age, children, life status, life situation. Take these things and use them as a springboard for the gospel.
Jesus also did this for the Samaritan woman at the well.
What was her immediate concern? Water.
She came to the well for water. So, Jesus approached her through the matter of water. “Will you also give me something to drink?” Because her first concern was water, Jesus approached her with water.
But soon, Jesus shifted from physical water to spiritual water. “Whoever drinks this water, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. The water I give them will be a spring of water welling up in them to eternal life.”
Soon, she was evangelized by Christ and immediately she also became a powerful evangelist (running into the town to tell everyone).
Her life up to that point had been very shameful – she’d had 5 husbands up to that time, and she didn’t like to speak in public. But in leaving her water, she ran into town, shouting and proclaiming, “Come and see!”
Is Jesus your Lord?
IF Jesus is really really your Lord (my Lord), we should say to him (every day, every moment), “What shall I do, Lord?”
If he is your Lord, this means, you are his servant / slave. So, you must be ready ALL THE TIME to obey the command of the Lord.
Paul saw Jesus as Lord, and his FIRST response was, “What shall I do, Lord?”
This means he was READY to obey the command of Christ.
So, if Jesus is really your Lord, you should be prepared ALL THE TIME to say, “Lord, what shall I do?”
Then, when we ask this, we must LISTEN.
If you do like this, “Lord, what must I do?” and immediately go do your own thing, then this sentence is useless. You must be ready to LISTEN.
Jesus spoke to Saul from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Jesus spoke to Paul through Ananias.
He spoke to Paul through his friends, and through circumstances, and through visions / dreams.
Jesus spoke to Paul in several ways.
Like this, today, because Jesus is alive and the same yesterday, today, and forever, IF we ask, “Lord, what shall I do?”, then he will speak to us in various ways – but most of all through:
Bible, meditation, circumstances, friends, prayer,
And we must make it our goal to LISTEN to what he’s saying to us.
- The right question is NOT: “Is Christ speaking to me?” (He IS)
- The right question is rather: “Am I listening to Christ?” (Are you?)
Last verse: “Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”
Here there is a very strong commandment.
- v. 10: “get up!”
- v. 16 “get up!”
- v. 18 “quick!”
- v. 21 “go!”
Jesus calling today is the same, in only two words:
- “COME” (to me)
- “GO” (into the world)
Get up! Get up! Quick! Go!