And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Acts 7:59
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. The religious elite don’t take this well. 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 and 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 Jewish leaders 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 Stephen with peace, encouragement, and courage. 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 Saul’s life.
Questions: How is Stephen’s life and death an inspiration to you? What do you think about Jesus standing as Stephen looks on before his death?