Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Christ is not a good and effective substitute for Jesus. The name of Jesus can stand on its own. The Christ is a title; Jesus is his name. Paul had a role in life-to persecute the followers of the Way. The Way believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. Paul was a believer in the Messiah and he was looking for the Messiah, the Christ. In a sense, you could call him a Christian-a follower of the Christ, the Messiah. So, since he wasn’t buying into the Messiahship of Jesus, he did all he could do to stop the efforts of the Way-the followers of Jesus. He saw this as his role in life and played it very well, until Jesus apprehended him on the Damascus Road.
NOTE the words God spoke to Ananias about mentoring Paul. This is significant: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear MY NAME before the GENTILES, their KINGS, and the SONS OF ISRAEL, for I will show him how much he must suffer for MY NAME’S sake.”
Four things stand out here to me in this encounter: FIRST: When Paul was struck down with blindness on the road to Damascus, he asked “Who are you Lord?” Then Jesus did something amazing. He introduced himself to Paul. He didn’t say, “I’m the Christ.” He didn’t say, “I’m Jesus the Christ.” He didn’t say, “I’m the Lord Jesus Christ.” He said to Paul: “I am Jesus.”
SECOND: It’s all about the NAME OF JESUS. This was most important to the Lord, that Paul bear the NAME OF JESUS. This is what is most important for us today! We are not commanded to spread Christianity or any other religious system nor church membership, but only and primarily the NAME OF JESUS.
THIRD: Who was the target of Paul’s ministry to be? NOTE it was the Gentiles, their kings and the sons of Israel. It is not what is normally taught that Peter was the apostle to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles.
FOURTH: The transformation of Paul, the persecutor of the people of Jesus, into Paul, the proclaimer of Jesus, was very dramatic and obvious. After spending several days with the disciples of Jesus who were in Damascus, he began to proclaim the NAME OF JESUS in the synagogues. Even more than proclaiming Jesus, Paul was confidently proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
The name of Jesus is what is most important, not the title of the Christ. It’s in the name of Jesus that people are healed and at the name of Jesus that every knee someday will bow. This is why I call myself a follower of Jesus, not a follower of Christ. To be a follower of the Christ, most people of the world will believe you are a Christian who wants to convert them. To be a follower of Jesus is to make your relationship personal. The person is Jesus.