Acts 7:51-53, “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him — you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
Acts 7:55-56, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, ‘Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!’”
Have you ever wanted to give someone a good tongue-lashing? Stephen, the newly appointed disciple, did just that — to a very deserving audience. He literally gave his accusers a “come to Jesus” meeting for the ages!
Stephen brimmed with the Holy Spirit. The way he spoke and performed miracles in Jesus’ name drew much attention and ire from the men of a local temple who accused him of blaspheming Mosaic Law and the temple itself — both trumped-up charges. When asked to respond to the allegations, he first gave a brief run-through of Jewish history. Then, he got personal. He called the men “stiff-necked” (meaning obstinate and stubborn), charged them with murder, and then accused them of breaking the Mosaic Law themselves. Those listening didn’t take such harsh criticism well; they were enraged! He was challenging their authority, and they immediately decided to stone him to death.
But as we read Acts 7, we can take a moment to be encouraged by God’s response. Jesus didn’t swoop down and save Stephen or cause an earthquake to shake up the scene — but He did show up for him in even a greater way! Heaven opened, and Stephen was able to see Jesus standing at God’s right hand. And, as Jesus had done, Stephen asked God to forgive his accusers before simply falling asleep. How comforting to know that when we stand up for God, He makes a stand for us!
If you dare to speak about Jesus, you can expect opposition. The gospel is offensive. It cuts like a double-edged sword that, when wielded, can rouse anger. But trust that God is with you and, regardless of the outcome, that His truth and righteousness always prevail!
Lord Jesus, Your presence and faithfulness encourage me to speak up for Your truth. I know that if I take a stand for the gospel that You will stand for me. Give me the courage needed and the words to say when the opportunity to share my faith arises. Amen.