“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
“ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. (Acts 22:1-9)
When you control a conversation, what’s the first thing you’re most likely to talk about? Sports? The weather? Paul’s first conversation with Jesus meant more to him than anything else in his life. Whenever he had the chance, he told people all about it.
Arrested in Jerusalem, Paul addressed the angry mob in their local language, Aramaic. It was the language that the people in Israel had been speaking ever since their return from their Babylonian exile. When Jesus first met Paul, he was a Pharisee. He had trained under the best known rabbi of the day, Gamaliel. Gamaliel had once told the other members of the Sanhedrin to be slow about condemning the Christians, since several false Messiah’s had arisen in the past. He believed this new Christian movement was likely to die out, too, if it were merely human in its origin. But if not, then to resist it would be to resist God.
Paul’s defense to the mob in Jerusalem was to simply tell them about Jesus. Jesus had told him to proclaim the gospel on that road to Damascus. He had resisted God his whole life until that moment. He’d decided to never resist him ever again.
When Paul controlled the conversation, he had but one thing to talk about: Jesus.