“Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”Romans 1:3-4
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”2 Corinthians 5:14–15
It was on the road to Damascus that Saul first encountered the risen Christ. Intent on arresting followers of the Way, he had a notorious reputation at the time for being a chief persecutor of the Church. Later, in writing to the Philippians, he would cite this type of activity as prima facie evidence that he exceeded his contemporaries in his unenlightened zeal for the God of his fathers (Phil. 3:6; Gal. 1:14). Ironically, the one who sought to apprehend believers was himself “apprehended” in the process. Perhaps it was in response to the prayers of his kinsmen Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7) that moved the arm of God to act as He did in the life of Saul, (later called Paul). Regardless, it is a good reminder to us—never give up praying for those unsaved friends and loved ones! He that bared His arm in the salvation of Saul of Tarsus is the same One doing that great work today. He still delivers sinful men and women from “so great a death” and provides a “so great salvation,” translating them into “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (2 Cor. 1:10; Heb. 2:3; Col. 1:13). The risen Savior is at work all the time.
Little did Paul realize at the time what was in store for him following his dramatic conversion. The Lord told Ananias how this new convert would one day stand before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, and how many things he would suffer for the sake of the gospel (Acts 9:15-16). Not everyone who comes to Christ has that same course laid out for them, but one thing is sure: the same Lord who saves is the same One who sustains. He is a very present help in trouble and is actively working on behalf of those who are heirs of salvation, who need His help continually as He brings many sons to glory. Certainly, Paul would need that in his life and ministry.
Consider the far-reaching effects of our Lord’s glorious resurrection! Because He is risen, He is now at the Father’s right hand and always lives to make intercession for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). Because He is risen and has ascended to the Father, the Spirit has a ministry of convicting people of their sin and helping them to understand the remedy for that sin in the ascended, resurrected Christ (John 16:8-11). Because He is risen, God has given assurance to all that He will judge the world in righteousness through the Son whom He has appointed (Acts 17:31). Because He is risen, the Lord walks among the lampstands, purifying and perfecting our witness and testimony so that we might shine for Him (Rev. 1-3). Because He is risen, He provides the means by which we can do extraordinary deeds – by the same mighty power that God wrought in Him when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand (Eph. 1:20).
Because He is risen, it is our privilege to serve Him as we are reminded by the hymn, “I serve a risen Savior He’s in the world today, I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer and just the time I need Him, He’s always near.” No wonder believers are exhorted to follow His example and no longer live for themselves, “but for Him who died for them, and rose again.” I am sure that Paul keenly understood this while in the Mamertine prison. Having been forsaken by most of his friends surely, he was thankful for the risen Lord who stood with him and strengthened him (2 Tim. 4:17)—a very present help during a time of trial, as the Lord does with each one of us as well.
After years of faithful service, Paul declared openly that he wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. With all the experiences in his life and ministry, he still desired to know Him even more. He wanted the truth of the resurrection to permeate all his being. Let us also hold that same conviction as we follow on to know the Lord.
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…Philippians 3:10