“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.Acts 7: 51-55
Earlier this week we considered a number of circumstances when the characters in the story (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Paul, and Silas – all faced dire circumstances, but in the end, they were each delivered in the nick of time. Today, in the passage above we read of the first Christian martyr.
Stephen is mentioned only briefly, but he is referred to as a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5), who was able to speak so effectively that his detractors could not “withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10), and when he faced certain death again we read that he was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7: 55).
Stephen surrendered his own will and submitted to the will of One greater than he in every area of his life. He is only mentioned in parts of two chapters in the entire Bible, but his life left a lasting impact on the people of his day and of those of us who follow Christ today.
Now, we may never face an angry mob of men intending us harm, but are we willing to stand for what we believe in the face of any opposition?