Commissioning by the Risen Lord
Dr. V. T. Samuel
Sehion MTC, Dallas, Texas
11“Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”
Paul’s defense of his Christian faith has been attacked by two major groups within Judaism: the Pharisees who strongly believed in the resurrection of the dead and the Sadducees who vehemently opposed it. Paul’s defense before the high priest Ananias was that he respected the Law and would never dishonor the High Priest of the Jews. The thrust of his argument before the religious and political authorities was that he is not a convert to a new faith, but a firm believer in the risen Lord who was the fulfillment of the prophesies recorded in the Jewish scriptures.
Paul’s understanding of the new phase of the Jewish faith was cemented in the personal experience of the Risen Lord whom he had persecuted. The martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and his own personal experience of the encounter with the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus (Acts: 9:1-20) became the two main unforgettable events that cemented his faith in the Lord. These and other encounters in his missionary journeys, his zeal and fervor for spreading the gospel and his instructions to the fellow believers in the newly established Churches have earned him the title of the greatest missionary giant, who was not in the list of the 12 disciples of Jesus. His faith in the risen Lord and zeal of defending the gospel became the back bone in the growth of the Christian Church. This is reflected in the reading of the scriptures in the Holy Qurbana service: one from the epistles of Paul and the other from the gospels.
How often do we remember the zeal of the persecutor turned missionary giant whose life and work have become one of the major sources of our Christian faith? How strong is our faith in the risen-Lord when it comes to the test of our faith? Let us remember those who are persecuted today for their faith in Damascus and other places where Paul had witnessed to his new found Christian faith.
Risen Lord, forgive our failures in witnessing for You in spite of the many opportunities we have in our work place, community, and home. Help us to stand along with those who are persecuted all over the world because of their faith in You. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." Tertullian