Sunday, March 6, 2016
I have often wondered if the Apostle Paul in his other life as Saul of Tarsus witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. Having him there as a spectator, or maybe even a verbal antagonist has always seemed like a sensible possibility. Jesus was executed on a cross while Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem for Passover. It was the kind of place that a devout Jew like Saul would have surely been present. After his conversion Paul wrote about the way he was more devout, more of a Jew, than anyone, so surely, he would be there watching Jesus die. It hardly seems that Saul would not have heard about Jesus, recognized Him as a threat to the status quo of the Jewish religion, and thought it a good thing that He should die.
In my world of speculating, Saul of Tarsus just has to be a witness to the death of Jesus on the cross. The problem is there is nothing in the Word which tells me it is so. As strange as it is that Saul might not have been present at the cross, it is even more strange that he would have been there and never wrote anything about it in his letters to the churches. Being able to say he was there would be like a pearl in Paul's testimony of the transforming power of Jesus. Yet, there is nothing. Maybe there is some other writing familiar then but lost now in which he spoke about it, but that only adds to my speculation.
Of course, all preachers are known to speculate now and again. Many a good Biblical story has been embellished by a preacher speculating about what was written in invisible ink between the lines of the text. I know. Call me guilty. Maybe speculation is not a bad thing if it helps us see through a different window what the Word is saying. What we need to make sure of is that the speculation does not take the place of what the written Word does actually say. My speculation does not trump the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.