From my presentation tonight:
But while I was on my way to Damascus, Jesus stopped me and tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I had it all wrong. Everything was exactly the opposite of what I thought it was. The things I thought were important weren't important, and the things I thought were evil were actually good. God rocked my world and turned me around 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
This changed everything. It was going to take some time to work through. It was going to take some prayer and it was going to take some reflection. God led me to a man named Ananias in Damascus and he told me everything he knew about what Jesus had did and taught.
But you know, I found out that Jesus' followers were still trying to figure things out too. Although he had warned them, no one was expecting Jesus to die. Like me, they thought that messiahs were winners. Messiahs won and kicked the Romans out of town. They had gone to Jerusalem expecting the heavens to open and for God to crown Jesus king of Israel before the whole world.
Then after he died, they weren't expecting him to rise again. Of course as a Pharisee, I knew what resurrection meant. If Jesus had risen from the dead, then the resurrection was beginning, the beginning of the end, the restoration of all things. If Jesus rose from the dead then he was the last Adam, the one to undo all the problems created by the first Adam.
Of course my thoughts would only develop over time as I thought about such things. I would more and more come to understand that sin and death had entered the world through the first Adam. God had made us to be full of glory, but Adam's sin made us lose that glory. And it wasn't only us humans but the rest of the creation too. The creation decays and disintegrates because of Adam's sin.
Jesus is the antidote. Jesus' death sets everything right again. The cross was God's solution to world's problem.
I hadn't anticipated that. I thought that what God wanted was for us to keep the Law perfectly. And I did. I had lived blamelessly, as far as the righteousness in the Law. I had kept the works of the Law perfectly, as I understood them as a Pharisee.
But it wasn't what God was looking for. The cross was the solution. Therefore, my works of Law were not. Works of Law must not play any role in being right with God, but rather trusting in the faithful death of Jesus on the cross...