Confronting the crucifiers
Scripture reading for April 14th: Acts 7
Key Scriptures: Acts 7:51-57 “”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. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.”
Stephen, one of the seven chosen to serve the widows, was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. He was falsely accused of speaking against the holy place and God’s law. When asked by the high priest if this was so, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit was given a wonderful ability to lovingly confront the religious leaders who had crucified Jesus. He shared Israel’s history of rejecting the prophets and confronted them of their complicity. Instead of listening and humbly repenting, they hardened their hearts and stopped their ears. As Stephen was about to be stoned, he saw a vision of Jesus Christ, standing at God’s right hand, ready to receive him! This was the trigger that moved the crowd to stone him. Before he ‘fell asleep’ he prayed, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” Saul, (Paul) was holding the coats of the stoners and was included in his prayer. God used Stephen to confront the ‘crucifiers’ of Jesus in another act of mercy seeking their repentance, and then took him home as Jesus stood to welcome him.
Acts 7:59-60 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” And when he said this, he fell asleep.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, what a moving testimony of Your grace and loving appeal to those who crucified You and stoned Your disciple. Help me to show that love and mercy to those I encounter today and turn evil around to work for good. I look forward to seeing You in glory!
Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Joseph to his betraying brothers)