Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,…
I. THE QUESTION. It was personal. When I preach to you, I am obliged to address you all in the mass. But not so our Master. If He had spoken in general terms, it would have glanced off from the heart of the apostle; but when it came personally — "Why persecutest thou Me?" — there was no getting off it. I pray the Lord to make the question personal to some of you. There be many of us here present who have bad personal preaching to our souls. Do you not remember, dear brother in Christ, when you were first pricked in the heart, how personal the preacher was? I remember it well. It seemed to me that I was the only person in the whole place, as if a black wall were round about me, and I were shut in with the preacher, something like the prisoners at the Penitentiary, who each sit in their box and can see no one but the chaplain. I thought all he said was meant for me; I felt persuaded that someone knew my character, and had written to him and told him all, and that he had personally picked me out. Why, I thought he fixed his eyes on me; and I have reason to believe he did, but still he said he knew nothing about my ease. Oh, that men would hear the Word preached, and that God would so bless them in their hearing, that they might feel it to have a personal application to their own hearts.
2. It contained some information as to the persecuted one. If you had asked Saul who it was he persecuted, he would have said, "Some poor fishermen, that had been setting up an impostor." But see in what a different light Jesus Christ puts it. He does not say, "Why didst thou persecute Stephen?" but "Me?" Inasmuch as you have done this unto one of the least of My brethren, you have done it unto Me.
3. It demanded an answer. "What have I done to hurt thee? Why art thou so provoked against Me?"
II. THE EXPOSTULATION. "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." For —
1. You do not really accomplish your purpose. When the ox kicks against the goad, it is to spite the husbandman for having goaded him onward; but instead of hurting the husbandman it hurts itself. If thou thinkest, O man, that thou canst stop the progress of Christ's Church, go thou and first bid the universe stand still! Go, stand by the winds, and bid them cease their wailing, or bid the roaring sea roll back when its tide is marching on the beach; and when thou hast stopped the universe, then come forth and stop the omnipotent progress of the Church of Christ. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh," etc. But put it as a personal matter, have you ever succeeded in stopping the work of grace in the heart of anyone? Aye, young man, you may laugh at your own shop mate, but he will beat you in the long run. If Christians are but faithful, they must win the day. It is no use your kicking against them; you cannot hurt them.
2. You get no good by it. Kick as he might, the ox was never benefited by it. Suppose you say you don't like religion, what have you ever got by hating it? You have got those red eyes sometimes on the Monday morning, after the drunkenness of the Sunday night. You have got that shattered constitution, which, even if you had now turned it to the paths of virtue, must hang about you till you leave it in your grave. But you are moral. Well, have you ever got anything even then by opposing Christ? Has it made your family any the happier? Has it made you any the happier yourself? Will it quiet your conscience when you come to die that you did your best to destroy the souls of other people?
3. But kick as the ox might, it had to go forward at last. If anyone had told Saul when he was going to Damascus, that he would one day become a preacher of Christianity, he would, no doubt, have laughed at it as nonsense; but the Lord had the key of his will, and He wound it up as He pleased. "Then why persecutest thou Me"? Perhaps you are despising the very Saviour you will one day love; trying to knock down the very thing that you wilt one day try to build up. Mayhap you are persecuting the men you will call your brothers and sisters. It is always well for a man not to go so far that he cannot go back respectably.
III. THE GOOD NEWS. Paul, who persecuted Christ, was forgiven. He says he was the very chief of sinners, but he obtained mercy. Nay, more, he obtained honour. He was made an honoured minister of Christ, and so may you.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,