Jesus has told to His disciplines, that He was going to Jerusalem to receive
sufferings there, James and John began to beg Him to promise to them that in His
kingdom they would be able to take places on the right and on the left sides from
Him (Mark 10:32-38). About what Messiah did they think then? About a suffering,
crucified Messiah? No. About the political leader.
Jesus answered to them that they didn’t understand His words and that
they didn’t know what they were asking about.
Jesus predicted His torments and crucifixion, the 12 apostles could not
understand what He meant (Luke 18:31-34). Their origin and education made them
assume, that a good life was waiting for them. And then there was the Calvary...
All the hopes that Jesus would become their messiah were broken. The discouraged
apostles went home. All these years had been spent for nothing! Therefore the
disciples left Him when He was arrested. They believed so much in the victorious
Messiah who would subordinate all the enemies to Himself, that when they saw
Him, thrown down, bled to death under strokes of a lash, a helpless captive in
the power of Pilate, who was taken to his penalty, was nailed to a cross, where
He died, as the most common criminal - all their hopes for messiah were totally
broken. From psychology we know, that we hear only what we expect to hear. The
predictions of Jesus about the following torments and death were not heard.
Despite of His preventions the disciplines turned to be completely unprepared...
However several weeks after, despite of all the prior doubts, the disciplines returned to Jerusalem and began to glorify Jesus as the Savior and God, as Jewish Messiah. The only convincing explanation is given in 1 Cor.15:5: «He was seen… then by all the apostles». What else besides it could restore the strength of the disciples fallen into despair , that they went to preach to people, accepted torments and died for the crucified Messiah? Apparently, He really «shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God» (Acts 1:3).
The young Jew from Tarsus, Saul by name, was a sworn enemy of Christians. The story of his transformation into the apostle Paul is one of the impressing witnesses for the benefit of Christianity. Saul was a Roman citizen and a very educated person. Saul was a religious figure, a fanatical adherent of Judaism, a Pharisee and son of Pharisee (Acts .23:6). He was raised in strict submission and in observance of Judaic laws. Namely this devotion was the base of his irreconcilable denying of Christ and of the early church. His cherished purpose was the destruction of this sect (Gal.1:13). And he began to act to exterminate all of them (Acts.26:9-11). He devastated the church (Acts 8:3). Saul set off to Damascus with papers, which empowered him to seize there followers of Christ and to take them to the court. But while he was on his way something happened to him...
he was approaching Damascus, «breathing
out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord»,
suddenly a light from heaven
flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him: Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord
said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest… Arise, and go into the city, and it
shall be told thee what thou must do. And Saul arose from the earth; and when
his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought
him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor
Jesus appeared before Ananias, one of His disciples, and told him to go to the
address pointed by Him to Saul and lay his hands on him.
As soon as Ananias executed the command of Jesus and laid his hands on
Saul, Saul regained his sight. Now for several days he was with disciples who
were at Damascus and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in synagogues that He is the
Son of God
Paul didn’t simply see Jesus, but this vision had turned over all his life. He proclaimed the Gospel not according to the own choice but under compulsion: «For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me... » (1 Cor.9:16) Paul’s character changed radically. From the intolerant, irreconcilable religious fanatic, the arrogant man with a bad character he turned into a kind and tolerant person. From the person full of hatred to the people who were not Jews, seeing in them the lower people in comparison with the elected race, he turned into a convinced apostle who had devoted all his life to help mainly to people who were not Jews, to make them believeres of Christ. Paul languished in chains seven times, preached the Gospel in the East and in the West, reached the coast of the ocean and was lost by death of martyr from the hands of the authorities.