Right now my Bible Study group is going through the book of Acts and this week we were in Acts 6 & 7. I absolutely love this section of scripture because one of my favorite Bible characters is Stephen. If I could have just an ounce of his boldness and faith I would look very different from how I look now.
His story is a testimony to so many things. He was the first martyr and some might think his personal sacrifice was a miserable failure because there were no recorded converts after his death. But it is clear his short life exemplified much purpose.
We all know that in the long-run his story is now part of scripture and I am sure many have come to faith through his example through the years. But more importantly God did use Stephens death for an immediate purpose as well. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told the apostles He would have them be His witness’s first in Jerusalem and then in Judea and Samaria. And it wasn’t until Stephen’s murder that Jesus’s witness’s scattered out of Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. So what some at the time might have thought was a catastrophic ministry failure, turned out to be God’s sovereign plan being worked out to further His kingdom.
Stephen had a striking resemblance to Jesus. He was full of grace with a heavenly face. He was an innocent man put to a false trial. And ultimately He died, but not before begging God to forgive his accuser’s.
But what stuck me the most in these chapters was something that literally gave me chill’s up my spine. Right before Stephen is stoned, he gazes into the Heavens where he see’s Jesus. And it says in verse 7:56 “and he said, ” Behold I see the heaven’s opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
What is Jesus doing?
This is the only recording in Scripture where Jesus is actually on His feet. He is usually sitting. This little verse has plenty of implication, because I would think it would take a lot to bring Jesus to His feet for a standing ovation. But none-the-less this lowly, table washing, widow feeding deacon made Jesus stand up and take notice in a special way.
Jesus made Stephen’s face to shine like an angel in the presence of his enemies (vs 6:15). And then Jesus cheered for His faithful servant right before He brought him into glory.
It is a magnificent story.
I can’t wait to chat with this amazing man in Heaven. His example is etched in my mind. I desire so much to resemble Jesus in such a fashion as Stephen.