“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Jesus’ complete One-ness with the People is seen in Saul’s very first encounter with him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Paul’s entire ministry reflects the revelation of the perfect union of Jesus and the Church. Everything Paul writes about the total reconciliation of all peoples and everything on earth, in the heavens, and under the earth directly follows from his first revelation of Christ on the Damascus road.
Paul was temporarily blind after Christ was revealed to him. Paul was processing this revelation the entire time he was blind. Here he is going from city to city arresting Messianic Jews, and the Voice from heaven asks him why he is persecuting him.
If our popular understand of the relationship of Christ and the church was accurate, then the Voice from heaven would have said something different.
- Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my people?
- Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my followers?
- Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my church?
- Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting the saints?
- Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting my body?
Each of these alternatives suggests a wall of division between us and Christ. But the Voice didn’t say this.
The Voice expressed a total identification with the People. The People are not something apart and distinct from the Voice. Imagine someone was attacking your body. You might say a number of things to your attacker.
- Why did you kick me in my chin?
- Why did you kick me in my abdomen?
- Why did you kick me in the face?
- Why did you kick me in my side?
But if we compare this to what the Voice said to Saul, we would say, “Why did you kick me?”
When Saul arrested a family of believers, he was arresting Jesus. When Saul stood by as Stephen was executed by stoning, Saul was officiating the execution of Jesus.
- Today, when churchmen falsely accuse gays and lesbians, they are falsely accusing Jesus.
- When synods and conferences defrock clergy for conducting same-sex weddings, they are persecuting Jesus.
- When Christians drive people away from their churches, they are driving Jesus away.
- When parents disown their gay and lesbian children, they are disowning Jesus.
The story of Saul’s revelation is repeated, verbatim three times, in Acts 9:4, 22:7, and 26:14. The question is word-for-word identical to the others. As far as I can tell, the various translations have identical renderings. This suggests that the Greek is simple, straightforward, and clear. Of course, we still need the spirit of wisdom and revelation.