3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything."
FYI - Three chapters in Acts tell of Saul's conversion: chapter 9,22 & 26. This triple telling testifies to the importance of this event. It was not like Luke to repeat himself.
We must understand who Saul/Paul was to grasp the huge conversion that took place in his life. Saul was born of Jewish parents in Tarsus, tribe of Benjamin. He was named after King Saul himself, name meaning 'called of God.' Saul inherited wealth, Roman citizenship and a fierce love for the Jewish faith. He spent his childhood in Tarsus studying God's Word at the feet of Gamaliel. (22:3) His writings and sermons include over 200 Scripture references, from almost every book in the Old Testament. His learned trade was that of a tentmaker. (18:3.) Saul never met Jesus during His life on earth. Saul understood the Law to say "cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree." (Duet 21:22-23) he could not comprehend how anyone could follow a convicted, crucified criminal!
Now back to the passage, Saul was zealous, on his own mission to Damascus, his trip would be about 140 miles in order to get permission to find believers, (men & women) and take them back to Jerusalem as prisoners!! This trip would take nearly a week on foot. As you probably figured out "The Way was Luke's reference to Christianity (the Way of Salvation.)
Nearing his destination, a sudden light FLASHED around him and he fell to the ground, in v. 17 we know that it was Jesus who appeared to him. The voice called out Saul, Saul meaning you are in BIG trouble when the Lord calls your name twice!! Luke 10:41 (Martha, Martha) 13:34 (o Jerusalem, Jerusalem) 22:31 (Simon, Simon)
What do you think was going on in Saul's mind???
Although Saul's persecution had been directed at Jesus' followers, the heavenly visitor revealed that when he had persuceuted Christ's disciples, he had in reality been persecuting Him. When he arrested Christians, he arrested Jesus. When he tortured Christians, he tortured the Christ. When he killed christians, he murdered the Son of God. He had prided himself on being 'blameless' as to the righteousness which is in the Law, now he saw that he was the 'chief' of sinners. Trembling, he asked 'What shall I do Lord?'
Saul was expecting to sweep into Damascus with a show of strength as God's avenging agent; instead he was led into the city a sorrowful sinner, as helpless as a blind beggar. We now see a humble man full of remorse. Saul now believed in Christ, it is possible he was in prayer and fasting for those 3 days while he was blind and waiting to be told what to do.