Stephen has confronted the Jewish leaders with their role in the death of Jesus, accusing them of resisting the Holy Spirit and breaking God’s law. “Now when they heard these things they were enraged and ground their teeth at him”(Acts 7:54). “Enraged” is actually “cut to the heart,” the same phrase used in Acts 2:37 to describe those convicted by Peter’s sermon about Jesus. Stephen seems oblivious to their hostility: “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”(Acts 7:55). When he says this out loud (Acts 7:56), they have had enough.
“But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him”(Acts 7:57-58). Unlike Jesus’ execution, Stephen’s death is a product of passion. They are angry and bitter, but Stephen is calm and strong. “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep”(Acts 7:59-60). It is notable that Stephen dies just like Jesus. Just as Jesus prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”(Luke 23:46), so Stephen commits his spirit to Jesus. Just as Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them”(Luke 23:34), so Stephen prays that Jesus not hold their sin against them. Stephen dies in faith and mercy, following his Savior.
This is a heartbreaking scene. The injustice and cruelty are infuriating. Yet Stephen triumphs here. It is not governmental power or physical strength that brings ultimate victory. By faithful suffering, Stephen overcomes through God’s power—and goes to be with Jesus.
One thing to think about: Would I be willing to die for Jesus?
One thing to pray for: Courage to face threats without compromise
This message was sent to: from
Fairview Park church of Christ, 11820 Fairview Road, Little Rock, AR 72212
If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter click to unsubscribe. Modify your Subscription