Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, responds to the religious leaders’ charges against him with an overview of the Old Testament. Rather than defending himself against their attacks, he is boldly proclaiming truth. Essentially, he is showing how they are no different than their ancestors who continually rejected God. They endured this from Jesus while He was alive and they aren’t about to take it from His followers after His death. They are burning with rage.
Unafraid and undeterred, Stephen continues, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Jesus is there & He is standing.
We often hear of Jesus seated at the right hand of God, but as Jesus watches this earthly encounter, He STANDS.
Standing in unity with Stephen. A standing ovation as the first of many Christian martyrs prepares to leave the pain, persecution, suffering, sin-filled earth; as Stephen is about to fall asleep in this life to awaken in a much better place face to face with Jesus standing to welcome him home.
The enraged religious elite cry out with a loud voice, stopping their ears, and rushing toward him. They cast him out to be stoned.
In Stephen’s death he has the same attitude of the one he unashamedly follows to the bitter end; the one standing at the right hand of God...no doubt along with the Holy Spirit providing him with peace, encouragement, and courage beyond our imagination. Enduring the pounding of stones, he falls to his knees and cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Who can do this? Only one who KNOWS and sees Jesus.
Meanwhile, off to the side, a young zealous Jewish man named Saul is supervising the operations. Little does Saul know how powerful Stephen’s last words – his prayer to not hold this sin against them – will be answered in his life. Indeed, Saul’s (Paul’s) sins will ultimately be forgiven and his life will be poured out for this Jesus he is persecuting. Stay tuned...
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