Scripture:

vs 51-54, 57-60

[51] “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

[52] 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— [53] you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

[54] When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

[57] ..they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, [58] dragged him out of the city and began to stone him..

[59] While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” [60] Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Observation:

Stephen had a close relationship with Jesus.  He was guided by, and got his strength from the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus did, Stephen spoke the truth when the truth needed to be heard.  He spoke truth knowing his fate if he did not let up.  The Sanhedrin were spiritually lost and needed to hear it.  Stephen was in fact relentless – telling them truth that burned at their souls.  So much so that they were like evil creatures “gnashing their teeth at him”, rushed him like wild animals and finally stoned him to death.

Stephen knew where he would spend eternity and very much like Jesus, he asked for mercy on the people who would stone him to death.

Application:

As we each allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel, we will undoubtedly be faced with circumstances where we will have a choice – to speak truth, or to be silent;   to stand for Jesus or sit down and be quiet.  Expect pushback.  We’re not always going to be talking to people who are wide open to hearing the Gospel.  Some people who are not yet filled with the Spirit are incapable of understanding things of the Spirit, so the task is not always easy.

It’s unlikely any of us will actually be stoned to death if we stand for Jesus and speak the Gospel to undeserving people in this fallen world, but it’s also not unlikely that, if we do this relentlessly with passion as Stephen did, that we won’t be persecuted in some form either.  But listen, we didn’t deserve God’s grace either and yet Jesus died for us!  If we are persecuted in some form because of our passion to share the Gospel, try as Stephen did to be like Jesus and forgive them.  With hardened hearts, some people are incapable of understanding yet.  Share, keep it simple, and forgive them if they get infuriated and fail to understand.

Prayer:

Lord thank You for You’re grace – for sending Jesus to die for us.  Help us to keep the message simple and to share the Gospel with those who are open to hearing it and to those who are not.  If the message burns to cut through hardened hearts and the reactions are to lash out at us in some way, help us stay strong.  If they do lash out at us, forgive them because the are incapable of hearing Your Word at this time.  Let us be Your messenger Lord.  We know we don’t have the power to change those hearts but You do.  In Jesus name we pray this.  Amen.