This morning I read the following verse in Galatians 1:23 -24 written by the Apostle Paul: they simply kept hearing: “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
I love these moments in Scripture when you have to pause for a moment and reflect on what must have transpired for an individual to feel completely compelled to stop moving in one direction and begin moving in a completely different direction. Paul didn’t just wake up one morning and think…you know, I think I will now stop murdering Christians and join their cause instead. No, something happened. (Acts 9)
At church this weekend the message focused on the story of Peter being interrogated by the priests and the Sadducees after he healed a lame man outside of the Beautiful Gate. I love that story, by the way, and even wrote about it here a few years back. These verse are also ones that invite us to pause and wonder…what happened.
“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus…But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Act 4: 13, 19-20)
And what did they see?
After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were terrified. They were so scared that they locked themselves away, fearing for their lives.
But then, something happened.
“In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (John 20: 19-20)
And more than immediate rejoicing, this moment completely changed their heart’s mission. Instead of cowering behind closed doors, they began proclaiming in courtyards. Similar to Paul, they heard and saw things that solidified their faith.
We see these bold (and some might even call crazy) moments all through scripture too. The prostitute who dumped a whole bottle of her livelihood on the feet of Jesus…something happened. (Luke 7)
Or how about the man born blind who had an encounter with Jesus and his life was forever changed: I don’t exactly know what happened…but I do know one thing, I was blind and now I see!…something happened. (John 9:25)
I even think of David from the Old Testament. God took a scrawny shepherd boy, referred to him as “a man after my own heart ” then used him to fight a giant and turned him into a king. And that King was once so filled with gratitude he couldn’t contain his joy. “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” 2 Samuel 6: 20-21
I don’t know about you, but seeing and hearing stories of how Jesus transforms our lives and forever changes the direction of our hearts, never gets old. These accounts in Scripture are moments intended to invite each of us to pause long enough to ask: What happened?