We noted yesterday three answers to the question, When did Jesus take hold of Paul? What about the question, Why did Jesus take hold of Paul?
One answer to the question is that Jesus took hold of Paul on the Damascus Road because he had spent eternity wanting to meet him. Often we focus on the blessings that came to Paul around that time: forgiveness of sins, membership of God’s family, and many others. But do we think of how Jesus felt when he had Paul actually in his grip? We may get an idea of his feelings if we think of the parable of the lost sheep which the shepherd put on his shoulders when he found it. In a spiritual sense, Jesus put Paul on his shoulders and held him tightly, never letting him go. On the journey to the fold, Paul was aware of the singing of the Shepherd who was glad that he had found his sheep. There was great joy in the heart of Jesus as one more sinner was saved, a step nearer to the occasion when all his people will have been rescued from their sins.
A second answer to the question ‘why’ is that Jesus took hold of Paul because he had a particular task for Paul to perform. When Jesus sent Ananias to Paul when he was in Damascus after being blinded on the way there by Jesus, he told Ananias that Paul had a specific role in the development of the Christian church: ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake’ (Acts 9:15-16). We can see some of the results of this divine hold on Paul in the accounts in the Book of Acts as well as references in the New Testament letters by him.
A third answer to the question ‘why’ is that Jesus took hold of Paul because he had a blessed destiny marked out for him in heaven. This destiny includes total perfection, not only sinlessness but also conformity to the holy image of Jesus himself. In ways that we cannot understand at present, this future destiny is connected to life in the new heavens and new earth, a life that will be marked by endless happiness and satisfaction.
No doubt there are other reasons as to why Jesus took hold of Paul. The three that we have thought about – the joy of Christ, the role designed by Christ, and life in the perfect world – also apply to every Christian. This is why Jesus has taken hold of each of them.