And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Both of today’s passages are some of the most well-known of the Bible.
Ezekiel 16 is the graphic metaphor of Israel playing the whore. The descriptions of Israel’s harlotry border on grotesque – reflecting the seriousness of Israel’s sin.
In Acts, we read of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. This amazing story introduces Saul as a zealous persecutor of the church, and for some divine reason, Jesus chooses this arrogant “Jew among Jews” to take the gospel to the ends of the earth!
These passages have one thread – one aspect of God’s character in common… his incomprehensible Grace.
After sixty-one verses of Ezekiel’s graphic descriptions of Israel’s sin, you might think that Israel is beyond hope – that they’ve gone too far, that there is nothing to be redeemed, nothing left to be restored… UNTIL, the very end of the chapter…
I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God (Ezekiel 16:62-63).
He promises to atone for the sins of his people. We know the price of the atonement. We know the depth of the sacrifice that was made for this sinful people, for Israel, for the remnant, for us.
And then think about Saul… There is no better example of the power of God’s grace than in the transformation of Saul’s life. Jesus, the one who gave his life for our sins, appeared to Saul and asked Saul why he was persecuting Him, the risen Lamb of God.
If God’s grace can transform Saul, God’s grace can transform anybody… even me!