8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
1And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
The tension between Jewish people who believed Jesus was the Messiah and those who did not had been growing. It was an extension of the trouble that had existed before Jesus was crucified and resurrected. It had not so surprisingly been carried forward as Jesus was continuing His work through His followers. Things had reached a boiling point at the trial of Stephen, a godly man, full of the Holy Spirit who told the truth about God’s stubborn people and their history of rejecting God while at the same time claiming to be his children. One special young Jewish man was there the day when the rage of the “non-Jesus following” Jews boiled over; his name was Saul. (He held the coats of the men while they stoned Stephen) It would turn out to be one of those “spectacular but unrecognizable while it’s happening” moments for Saul and the answer to Jesus’ vision. Can you imagine being the person in the vision? (Ps. Dale).
Thoughts for the day
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
- Who can you encourage with this story/message?
Pray for wisdom, healing and peace across your home country.