I am Jesus Who You Are Persecuting

"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples... As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. Acts 9:1-5 (NIV) Here is a persecutor of Jesus' followers named Saul who was a religious leader of his day and someone who hated those who identified themselves with Jesus. He was so driven in his pursuit of the Lord's disciples that he was willing to travel great distances to see this cult snuffed out. On one of his journeys toward Damascus, Jesus appeared to him. Jesus appeared to Saul for two reasons. First, he was protecting those who Saul was seeking to abuse. Second, Jesus loved Saul and was calling Saul to Himself; calling Saul to become a member of the very people he attempted to stop. What is striking to me is how Jesus identifies Himself with His people. Jesus says to Saul, "Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?" “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom  you are persecuting, He replied." Think with me what this means. The identification of Christ with us goes beyond name only. It also speaks of experience. Jesus didn't say, "You are persecuting my people." He said Saul was persecuting Him. That means that every time Paul hurt a disciple of Christ, he hurt Jesus. Every time Saul imprisoned a follower of the Way, he imprisoned Jesus. Here's what this means for us as Jesus followers. When we hurt, Jesus hurts. When we are left out, Jesus feels the alienation with us. When it seems like no one understands, Jesus experiences the loneliness.  Know that everything we experience in this life is shared by Jesus. When we cry He cries, and when we laugh He laughs. This is the Jesus we serve. He is a Savior who doesn't ask us to proclaim Him from a distance, but One who has traveled a great distance to be with us and to dwell in us. He has chosen to expose Himself to all that we are exposed to because of His care and compassion for us. Jesus has chosen to identify with us by sharing in all of our joy and in all of our pain. Remember the next time you are mistreated, Jesus is being mistreated with you. Remember the next time you are shown kindness, Jesus is being show kindness as well. Prayer Lord Jesus, help me to realize that I am never alone and that you are always with me. Thank you for risking the possibility of pain by sharing in my life experiences. Thank you for being full of loving-kindness toward me, and that no matter what I experience in this world, I will never experience it alone. Amen

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