And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,…
We have here an instance and a picture of conversion - of a human soul pursuing the wrong course, being arrested by the Divine hand, and submitting itself willingly to the rule of Christ.
I. A HUMAN SOUL PURSUING ITS OWN WRONG COURSE. Paul was moving with the whole force of his strong and ardent nature in the direction of active persecution of the friends of Christ (vers. 1, 2, 5). Sin sometimes takes this special form now. More often it takes the shape of
(1) guilty indulgence, or
(2) utter worldliness, or
(3) confirmed unbelief and rejection of the truth, or
(4) indecision and procrastination.
But whatever particular form it takes, its essential nature is this - that the soul which was created to love, honor, and please God is pursuing another and an opposite path; it is found in highways or byways of evil. It is not with God, with Christ, but against him (Matthew 12:30). It itself is not in active sympathy with him, rejoicing in him, delighting in his truth and happy in his service; and all the influences, both those which (as in the case of Saul at this time) are the direct result of conscious effort, and those which flow spontaneously and unconsciously from the life, are hostile to his truth and to his kingdom.
II. THE DIVINE ARREST. (Vers. 3-5.) Paul tells us (Philippians 3:12) that he was "apprehended of Christ Jesus." Christ laid hold upon him as he was going on his guilty way, arrested him in his own name, and charged him to turn round and pursue another and a better course. The Savior's interposition in his case was unusually sudden, and it was exceedingly striking in its form (see vers. 3-5). It is seldom that the hand of the heavenly Lord is laid so manifestly, so powerfully, on the human heart. Yet it is being continually laid upon us, and we now are being arrested by him, with effectual power in redeeming love.
1. Christ's arrest of us is sometimes sudden, but more often gradual. Sometimes a man who has been proceeding far in some way of folly and of sin is instantly convinced that he is guilty and foolish; in an hour, in a moment, the truth of God flashes into his soul and lights up the dark depths within, and it shines upon and illumines the dreary and fatal path before him, and he stops and turns. More frequently the Lord of love and power works gradually in the heart; by degrees he insinuates his heavenly truth, and gradually makes the soul to see and to feel that the way of selfishness and of sin is a path which must no longer be pursued, from which it must escape for its life.
2. The Divine arrest is sometimes by extraordinary but usually by ordinary means. Occasionally God comes in power to the human soul, by some vision of the night or of the day, or by some very remarkable ordering of his providence, by some experience which is shared by no other or by a very few; but commonly the hand of his renewing power is laid upon us by ordinary means, by the gracious influences of a Christian home, by the appeals of the Christian minister or teacher, by the sickness which brings death and judgment into full view, or by the loss which compels us to feel that we do need and must secure a Divine Friend who can succor and console in the drear and lonely hour of life.
III. THE SOUL'S SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE WILL. The first result of feeling the pressure of the Divine hand may be, perhaps generally is, spiritual agitations. We may be "trembling and astonished" (ver. 6), or, if not moved so powerfully, we shall be agitated, earnestly concerned, exceedingly solicitous; we shall be as those thoroughly awakened who have been partially asleep, our spiritual faculty of inquiry will be called into fullest exercise. But the main and all-important result is spiritual submission - readiness and eagerness to accept the rule of Christ. The question of Saul will be the question of our heart, now reduced to loyalty and self-surrender, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Christ will tell us that he wants us to trust him, to follow him, to work for him. And these three things we shall gladly do. But the victory is gained, the one supreme step is taken, death is left behind, and the gates of life are before us, when, responding to his merciful and mighty touch, we submit ourselves to his sovereign will, when we turn round in spirit and say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,