“And [Saul] fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
The conversion of Saul (Acts 9; 22; 26) is one the most powerful and instructive narratives in all the Bible. Saul, a one time persecutor of the church (Acts 8:3; 9:1-2; 22:3-4; 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13) had an unforgettable, life changing encounter with the resurrected Christ. As today’s verse passage reminds us, Jesus knew exactly who Saul was, addressing him by name during their confrontation. It is interesting to note the contrast here. The Lord knew Saul, but Saul, the supposed expert in all matters relating to God and His word (Acts 26:2-5; Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 2:5-6), did not know the Lord. As we survey the Scriptures we see many more instances in which God revealed knowledge of His individual image-bearers. Hagar and her son found themselves in the wilderness and in great need. Her despondency was broken by a personal address from heaven followed by supernatural provision (Genesis 21:14-17). The child Samuel, like Saul, was also addressed by name prior to entering into the Lord’s prophetic service (1 Samuel 3:10). The Lord Jesus revealed this kind of intimate knowledge of people even during his earthly ministry. “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” said the Lord concerning Nathaniel at their first encounter. Nathaniel was dumbfounded, “Whence knowest thou me?” he demanded. The Lord replied, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:47-48). The Lord’s comments hearken back to the Genesis record in which we read that, during a mysterious and painful confrontation with God, Jacob the deceiver (Genesis 27) was forced to confess the truth about who and what he was. At the end of the encounter God gave him the name Israel (Genesis 32:27-28). Nathaniel was an Israelite, a descendant of Jacob, who did not practice deceiving people as his ancestor had done. The Lord knew this and commended him for it. In fact, the Lord knows all there is to know about all of us (John 2:25). How different the Lord’s knowledge is from that of a political leader, an owner of a large business, or a military general. These men only know that they have a certain number of nameless, faceless, human resources at their disposal. With the Lord things are different. He doesn’t just know the mass of humanity that exists on the earth at a given time. Rather, He has exhaustive knowledge of each individual human who has ever come into existence. Even so, God considers Himself to have special, precious relational knowledge of His redeemed (Matthew 7:21; Nahum 1:7; John 10:27; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:19). May this meditation thrill and encourage our hearts today even as we endeavor to know the names and needs of others in our local household of faith.
God bless you, dear saints,