Daily Thought for: 10th November

STEPHEN (2)

Acts 6. 1-10; 7. 54-60

Christ-likeness was Stephen’s outstanding feature. This gave power to his witness. Stephen’s words, like the Lord’s, were guided by the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. His enemies could not resist them. Just as with the Lord Jesus, they had to resort to false accusation. Stephen is highlighted among a group of men of manifest spiritual maturity as being full of faith and the Holy Spirit. These were the controlling features of his whole life. Luke also indicates that Stephen was full of grace (6. 8 e.g. JND or NIV). God’s favour manifestly rested on him, so much so that when he stood on trial, his face shone like the face of an angel, an unforgettable sight. We can influence our contemporaries deeply by living close to Christ. 

Stephen is even more like his Lord in death. As the rocks rain on him, he commits his spirit to the Lord Jesus, as He had done to the Father. Like Christ, he pleads that the sin of his killers would not be placed in the scales of justice against them. The last recorded martyr of the Old Testament had died calling upon the Lord to avenge his death, 2 Chr. 24. 22. What a contrast with Stephen—the cross had moulded him. May we imbibe the spirit of Christ and seek to bless those who persecute us, thus overcoming evil with good, Rom. 12. 14, 21. 

In his last moments Stephen was strengthened by a glorious vision. He saw the glory of God and the suffering but now exalted Son of Man, standing ready to welcome him to His presence. As he had confessed Christ on earth so Christ confessed him in heaven, Matt. 10. 32. Stephen was utterly rejected on earth but gladly accepted in heaven. 

Stephen died young as the victim of a violent mob, a man of outstanding ability and promise, his brief ministry cruelly ended. Was it effective? Incredibly so in the long-term. Saul of Tarsus was an accomplice in his murder, yet the goads of conviction were pressing him. Stephen and not Gamaliel was the true teacher of Paul. On Stephen’s death the Jerusalem church was scattered, and with it the seed of the word. Stephen was a corn of wheat which, falling into the ground and dying, brought forth much fruit, John 12. 24. 

 

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