He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?”
On his way to persecute and incarcerate the believers in Damascas, Saul of Tarsus has a dramatic encounter with the living Christ. “…suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’”
In this brief description of the visitation of Christ to Saul (hereafter called Paul) we see his initial response to God’s holy presence—he falls to the ground. The apostle John had a similar response when confronted with the living Christ on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:17)
When Jesus asks Paul why he is persecuting him, in bewilderment Paul responds, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). Paul would learn in future days and weeks just who it was he was addressing as Lord. It was Jesus the incarnate Son of God whom he was killing and incarcerating through his followers.
Paul’s astonishment during this visitation by Christ was the beginning of a new journey of lifelong submission and repentance. The fact that he did not eat or drink for three days following was evidence not only of the shock of being physically blinded, but also the gravity of Paul’s sin in cruelly opposing Christ and his followers. He was learning an ongoing process of turning around in repentance, as he followed Jesus’ way.
While on the ground, shaking with fear and wonder, Paul asked the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6). One simple assignment was given to him: “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (9:6). Time was needed for another disciple, Ananias, to understand and muster the courage to obey his “assignment” in meeting with Paul. In this dramatic encounter with the Lord, Paul is seen fully embracing the Lord in adoration, repentance, and obedience.