“What was it about Jesus that was so incredible, so captivating, and so compelling that it caused a former Pharisee to be totally enamored with Him?”
As I am sure there are a number of ways this could (or should) be answered, I’m going to go out on a limb and offer my two-cents.
Jesus actually existed.
Before he became known as the Apostle Paul, his name was Saul and he was an up and coming Pharisee; a Hebrew of Hebrews, an educated leader and teacher of the Jewish Law. He made a name for himself going after and arresting Christians for their heresy of teaching people about Jesus. (Philippians 3:4-6) On one occasion when Saul was travelling to Damascus to arrest Christians, he learned that the Lord Jesus Christ actually existed.
1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He 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.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
I imagine a scene where a highly educated and powerful young college man was itching to make a name for himself by going on mission that would change his political position in the Jewish community forever. His zeal for the Jewish faith was red hot and his youthful enthusiasm for his task had even caused him to oversee the death of one of the Christian church’s first deacons: Stephen. (Acts 7:54-8:2) This task lead him to travel to Damascus in order to arrest the Christians there, but while on his was He is stopped by an angelic being.
Saul encountered this angelic being and fell to the ground hearing it ask him why he is persecuting him.
Saul asked “Who are you Lord?”
“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” was the reply.
This was huge!
The very first thing that Saul learned about Jesus was that He actually existed and was alive. He knew Jesus was a spiritual teacher who had been arrested and executed on a Roman Cross in the past, and he had heard the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, but like many other people, he did not believe that those rumors were true.
This event changed everything. From that day forward, this youthful educated man became the greatest evangelist the early church had ever known. Saul’s name changed to Paul and the rest of his life was to tell people about the dead man who had come back from the grave.
The Start of Change…
As the reality of the resurrection of Jesus became a fact in Paul’s mind, He was all in, and in my personal experience it was the same way. No, my experience with meeting Jesus was not so eventful, but when the realization that Jesus was very much alive and active came to me in a very real and present sense, then I had no choice but to become aware of His awesome presence in every aspect of my life and world. I could no longer ignore Him. Spiritually, I had become new inside; I had become Born Again.
What will change your life?
“It’s not the doctrine of the person of Jesus. It’s an inward revelation of Christ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” If you don’t know that Jesus is alive then seek Him. The task of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to men the living savior, and I can attest that when you cry out to Him, Jesus will make himself known to you.
Matthew 7:7 & 8
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
 Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 24.
 Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 19.