The recent events, yes in France but also elsewhere, reminded Coco of something. Before he was crucified that the Lord, Jesus Christ, spoke to his disciples and having told them that he was leaving them he went on to say: I have told you this beforehand so that you are not discouraged. They will throw you out of their synagogues, yes, and the hour will come that everyone who kills you will think that by doing so he brings a service to God. And this they will do, because they know neither the Father nor me. But I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I told you. I did not tell you this at the beginning because I was with you [but now I am leaving you]. (ref 1)

There was one man, among many, who believed these words and he became a persecutor of the followers of Jesus Christ. This man thought that he could serve God and if anyone qualified for heaven then he did. He described himself as circumcised on the 8th day, an Israeli of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law a Pharisee [not our modern understanding of that word, but a genuinely good man, who sought to do what was right – good words can be corrupted over time. He wanted to do what was right. He wanted to keep the law. He wanted to please God.], concerning zeal a persecutor of the called [the followers of Jesus], concerning righteousness before the law, blameless. (ref 2)

His name was Saul. Some people think they have something in terms of religion to boast about. Saul had far more. He pursued his own righteousness – or perhaps better expressed in terms that are understood more easily today, he sought to please God by what he did. There are people now in this world who think in the same way. They are pursuing their own righteousness by the works that they do, and they think killing is one of those good things to do.

But do you know? Saul changed. The Lord Jesus met him. Luke’s record in Acts chapter 9 opens with these fearful words – I love Luther’s words: Saulus aber schnaubte noch mit Drohen und Morden. It is so much more emphatic than the English: Then Saul, still breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, … You may read the rest yourself. (ref 3)

Years later he reflected upon his earlier attitude and writing then under the name of Paul, he expressed himself in a very different way in his letter to the Roman believers: I encourage you brethren in the light of the mercy of God to bring your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. (ref 4)

He was wrong once and he knew it. In this short encouragement he uses the same word that the Lord used when speaking with his disciples. It is service (λατρειαν – if you want to know). Was he thinking about those words which Jesus spoke? Well we have more than one reason to think that he had heard Jesus preaching. It is also not unreasonable to think that Saul may even have spoken with the Lord. It is as if he is saying here: Look, I was wrong. It is not service to offer their dead bodies to God, but to offer yourselves as living sacrifices – therefore, he says, that is your reasonable, that is your logical service. That is what you must conclude having read so much in this letter to the Romans about the mercy of God, you must now reach this conclusion that this is your reasonable service to offer your bodies as living sacrifices.

Is this not wonderful? There are people around today who think in just the same way that Saul once did. They think that they offer service to God by killing the servants of Jesus Christ, but the wonderful thing is that God no longer wants dead sacrifices – sheep, goats and the like – he wants you a living sacrifice to live your life out to the glory of his name by the power of the Holy Spirit in name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now that sacrifice is something worth living for. And if a man like Saul can see it, so can they and so can you.


  1. John 16:1-4
  2. Philippians 3:5-6
  3. Acts 9 Luther 1964 revision
  4. Romans 12:1

You may read more elsewhere here of Saul the Pharisee! and about Living Sacrifice.