12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,  ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’(Acts 26:12-18 (ESV)
Kicking against the goads. To goad someone into doing something is to prod them, to push them. It’s a reference to the world of livestock and getting them to move through stock yards and corals. Goading cattle you push and prod them with a stick that can reach in while you are on the outside. The animals will kick at them and the goad and try to resist it, but they end up moving along all the same. Here, Jesus has been prodding Paul, but Paul’s persecution is a kicking against the goad. He knows which way he has to go, but he doesn’t want to. He sets himself up to persecute so that he won’t. This is something we Christians might keep in mind. Those who are most violently opposed to our faith are often those closest to it. We do well to pray for them as our Lord asks. There show of persecution is perhaps little more than a front. God may be leading them to the faith in ways we don’t understand. In this case it is through Paul that God wants the gentiles to receive forgiveness of sins, to be sanctified in faith.