Jesus Stood Up To Receive Stephen [Acts 7]
54Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;56and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."57But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen delivered an incredible message describing the sweep of Jewish history ending with an accusation against the Jews who not only had killed the prophets pointing to Jesus, but had killed Jesus Himself. Instead of recognizing their sin and repenting, they went into a murderous rage ending with Stephen's stoning. Although reading about Stephen's death is sad, I am so encouraged by what happened as he died. Because Stephen was filled with the Spirit, as he looked up, he got to see the glory of God and Jesus , and not only that, but Jesus, who is usually pictured as sitting at the right hand of Jesus, stood up to receive Stephen! How cool is that? Stephen's focus was God and he died well, with forgiveness for the ones who stoned him on His lips. Stephen had peace and joy in the midst of a horrible situation and Jesus stood up to receive him!
We praise you Jesus for showing us an example of a man full of your Spirit and your faithfulness in receiving him with love and honor. Cause us to be will to keep our focus on you and to find peace and joy in the midst of the path you have for us.