Reflections: The Conversion of St. Paul

Today’s Reading: Acts 9:1-22

Daily Lectionary: Zechariah 1:1-21; Romans 14:1-23

“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine.” (Acts 9:15a)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord has a funny way of choosing, doesn’t He? He finds an unbeliever, His harshest critic, His biggest enemy, an infamous persecutor. And says, “Here’s my guy!” On what basis does God choose us? Certainly not on the basis of the Law and its works. 

No, God does not choose you because you love or believe in Jesus, any more than He chose Paul that way. Yes, you do love and believe in Jesus. But as with Paul, that doesn’t come first. Jesus comes first. Jesus always comes first. And second. And third. And last.

Don’t look at it as though you are saved because you love Jesus. You love Jesus because you are saved. It’s the same with believing. You’re not saved because you believe. You believe because you are saved. You don’t come first. Or second. Or third. Or at all in the matter of salvation. Only Jesus does.

Think Jesus, then. Think the Cross. Think Baptism. Think the preaching of the Gospel. Think the Holy Supper. Leave you, the sinner, out of it, because it is not at all on the basis of the law and its righteousness that God chooses for you. It’s all by His grace (Romans 3:23-24), by His love (1 John 4:10, 19), by His choosing (John 15:16).

When Paul was baptized, “Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes” (Acts 9:18). Smile at that. For while it is debatable whether Paul ever regained his physical eyesight (Galatians 4:15), he now had the converted and clear eyes of faith. God chooses us, chooses Paul, chooses you, chooses me, chooses sinners now, because of Jesus. And only because of Jesus. 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). Those are Paul’s words to Timothy and to us. They remind us that it’s all Jesus. Always Jesus. Only Jesus. That there is no surer ground for us, no surer confidence before God, than Jesus. Only Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

 

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Conversion of St. Paul)

 

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Pastor-psychiatrist duo Rev. A. Trevor Sutton and Dr. Brian Smith have teamed up to help you evaluate your technology use through a Christian perspective. Learn how to form healthy, faithful technology habits with Jesus at the center. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.