Stephen was chosen as a deacon, filled with the Holy Spirit, pious, merciful, and with a heart of servitude and humility. This was great! But God’s plans often go beyond our expectations. Stephen was to preach the salvation that comes from Christ alone.
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, rebukes the elders and members of the Sanhedrin, “you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit” (v. 51). He then proclaims Jesus as the Righteous One, the Messiah foretold by the prophets, in whom salvation is found.
The rulers and elders have had enough! They rejected, and were even annoyed at, the claim of Jesus as Messiah. Stephen is now at the center of the stage being dragged out of the city and stoned while he cried out with a loud cry “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (v. 60). I am truly touched imagining the scene. Stephen reminds the people stoning him about the unconditional love of Christ. Salvation by Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel!
Stephen is killed as he is carrying out the most important job there can be! For Stephen it is an honor to die for the sake of Jesus. Just as Jesus teaches in His famous Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 5:10), Stephen was willing to proclaim Jesus even though he would by martyred.
God does not ask us to go that far but the fact that the martyrs of the church were willing to give their life for Jesus’ sake should teach us this: we should be willing to spread the gospel of Christ and devote our lives to that. It doesn’t matter what your career is. You too can spread the Word. Are you willing? Are you willing to let the Holy Spirit guide you? I challenge each and every one of you who read this devotional to seriously think about ways you can bring Jesus to the people you interact with. Leave a comment on what you think you can do for the sake of the Gospel!
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.