If he (Saul of Tarsus) found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:2–5 nasb)
This is perhaps one of the most remarkable texts in all of holy writ. Saul is persecuting the church in Jerusalem. And Jesus Christ takes it personally!
The Lord appears to Saul, but He doesn’t say what we would expect. The words “Why are you persecuting My church?” never come out of His mouth. Instead, He makes this incredible statement: “Why are you persecuting Me!?”
How does Jesus Christ view His church? He views it as inseparable from Himself. What an incredible thought. The body of Christ, therefore, is not a nifty metaphor. Neither is it a bloodless doctrine or an abstract theology. It’s a reality. We are part of His body.
This event marked a monumental crisis in the life of Paul. It was accompanied by a blinding vision of Christ, which wrecked his religious life. Paul later referred to it as “the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19 nasb).
What was that vision? It was that Jesus Christ, the Head in heaven, was vitally united to His body on earth. In other words, Paul saw the “whole Christ,” or what Augustine called the ‘totus Christus’; the total Christ.
Since His ascension, Jesus Christ has never been a private citizen. Instead, He is vitally and inseparably joined to His church. He is both Head and body. He is both mind and members. That initial revelation would be an ever-expanding vision within Paul. It would later become his flagship message. And he would give his life for it.
Extract From ‘Eternity To Here’ – Frank Viola – Pages 243-244