On his way to find and arrest those following the Way (Acts 9.1-2) Saul has a spectacular experience that makes him rethink his entire view of God and life. We read:
“As he was going along, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.”
(Now the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless, because they heard the voice but saw no one.) So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open, he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus. For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything”.
(Acts 9.3-9, NET)
In contrast to what many believed was possible in this place and at this time, Saul directly hears the voice of the Lord saying “Why are you persecuting me?“. He didn’t hear an echo, but the audible voice of God. Many artistic impressions of this moment have Saul falling from a horse but we read nothing of any animals and, as one Bible scholar put it, artists are not the best interpreters of Scripture where accuracy to the text is concerned.
The light that knocks Saul to the ground is the light surrounding the risen Lord Jesus (Revelation 1.16b-17) and Saul is told, in no uncertain terms, that by persecuting believers and the church he is actually persecuting Jesus Himself (v.4).
Saul is led, temporarily blinded, into Damascus and for three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything. No doubt a man of Saul’s zeal and fervency for God spent the three days struggling in prayer:
Am I doing the right thing?
If I am doing the right thing, why has this happened?
Why would the risen Jesus appear to me, does this mean the Way is actually true?
Scripture would have passed through His mind, all the predictions, prophecies, sacrificial systems, with Messianic threads picked up throughout. Could Jesus be the crescendo, the pinnacle, of them all? Saul knew what was being taught about Jesus (Acts 4.1-22, 7.1-60) and now he had the personal evidence to bring him to a point of decision.
For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything.
For three days Saul had to process what had happened.
For three days Saul was preparing for a new life…three days to life.