“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are You, Lord?” he said.
“I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied (Acts 9:4-7).
I’ve always thought what Jesus didn’t say was equally as interesting as what He did say. To the best we know, Saul had never met Jesus face to face. He had never had a conversation with him; it wasn’t the name of Jesus that was written on the orders Saul carried with him in his bag that gave him authority to arrest and imprison the followers of the Way. Given that, Jesus might have said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting My followers?” But He didn’t.
So I asked the kids why.
I thought I knew the answer. It’s another example in Scripture of how closely Jesus identifies with His people. Just as He said in Matthew 25 concerning the least of these, when someone does good or ill to someone claimed by Jesus they are doing it to Him. Given that identification, Jesus of course said that Saul was persecuting Him, for He was there too with the men, women, and children living in fear of their lives.
But my 9-year-old had a different take. “So,” I asked the kids, “Why did Jesus say that Saul was hurting Him if He was not there?”
Then a moment of silence. And then, this kid who is quickly approaching middle-school aged, responded simply and profoundly, “Because that’s Jesus’ family.” And I felt like I was knocked off my own horse.
Yes, of course that’s it. It’s not enough to just say that Jesus identifies with His people. It’s not enough to just say that He cares. This is better. We are His family. And just the same way that I might feel anger, frustration, and a pressing into action if one of my kids was being bullied, so does Jesus. He’s the big brother who doesn’t back down from a challenge.
Are you feeling that today? That sense of belonging? That knowledge deep in your gut that whatever happens today there is a group of people you can still come home to? And are you then feeling it to an even greater degree, because apart from your earthly family, there is another family and another brother underneath the banner of another Father who knows you, loves you, and welcomes you home day after day? It feels good. It feels safe.
That was a good day around the breakfast table, but not primarily because I got to see that the Lord actually does move and work in the hearts and minds of children. It was a better day because I walked out of the house that morning feeling like a member of Jesus’ family. And I was thankful for the reminder.Read the rest.
Books by Michael Kelley