“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus,
and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him” (Acts 9:3).
Our local church is presently reading through the entire New Testament for this year. It is interesting today’s reading is Acts 9; this is Luke’s account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. This is especially interesting in light of the world’s current focus on gazing at the heavens. For today, a once in a lifetime event occurs—a total solar eclipse of the sun. For a brief moment, the moon will obscure the sun resulting in darkness in the middle of the day.
As a Jew and a Pharisee, Saul thought he lived his life in the light. Jews viewed Gentiles, (those outside of Judaism) as living in the darkness of paganism. But around midday, he encountered a light brighter than anything he had ever seen. In fact, the brightness caused him to fall from his horse to the ground. He then heard the voice of the Son of God; the One whom He had formerly hated and felt it was his duty to persecute. Saul now realized he lived in darkness. The Light came, and Saul’s eyes were open to see what he had not seen before.
More than physical light blinding him for a moment, Saul opened his heart to the reality of the revelation of Jesus. Later, the great apostle described his blindness with these words: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4). This describes the condition of every man and woman in his or her unbelief. Only when God shines in our hearts saying as he said of that first creation, “Let there be light”, can one’s eyes be opened to understand the Gospel: “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
Paul refers here to the initial entrance of light into the darkness of that first creation:
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over
the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face
of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated
the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:1-4
The Son of God described the apostle Paul’s ministry as that turning men and women from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). The Son of God said it well: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
People resent the light because they prefer the darkness. That’s because light, by its very nature, exposes what is really there. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they thrust the world into deep darkness. Suddenly, they didn’t know who God was, or who they were. Why didn’t God immediately send his Son into the world? Because men and women now lived in such darkness, they could not handle the light in its fullness. It is like keeping someone for a week in the total darkness of a closet and then suddenly bringing them out into the light of a bright summer day at noon. Their eyes could not handle the light. God introduced light into the world incrementally. Each prophet who spoke introduced more light into the world.
Now that the Son of God has come, He has brought the full light of the revelation of God. The ultimate joy of those who have been brought out of darkness and into the light is to let their lights shine so brightly; others can see the “light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”