I don’t know about you but I find it difficult to look at this graphic for any length of time. For me, it’s the weird graphic that pulsates and irritates my failing eyesight. Imagine then, Saul’s surprise as he encountered a bright light on his journey to Damascus.
We are told in scripture that the light was so powerful that it startled the horses causing Saul and his companions to fall to the ground. As the fearful men covered their eyes, Saul looks out as he hears a voice from the light questioning him as to why he has taken it upon himself to persecute the church. Perplexed by the challenge to his mission, Saul asks ‘Who are you, Lord?’ to which the voice replies ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
Having been made physically blind by the encounter, Saul is led into Damascus. Here, his physical sight is miraculously restored as God instructs a christian named Ananias to visit and pray for his healing. A pivotal moment in which not only is Saul’s physical blindness removed from him but also the zealous internal blindness of how he understands what God is about in the world and the work of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
I’m sure that many people long for a similar moment with God as Saul had – a close encounter with the Divine in which they experience with absolure certainty the miraculous power and presence at first-hand. However, as with the disciples and Saul (later to be known as the Apostle Paul), the cost of a close encounter with God often comes at a high price as believers risk beatings and death for defending the weak and preaching to people everywhere: ‘Christ crucified, the hope of glory’