Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7.55-56
Stephen was one of seven men who were chosen for the task of seeing to the daily distribution of food for the widows who were in need. He was well-attested, full of faith, of wisdom, and of the Holy Spirit. He was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. The Jews had argued with Stephen, but were unable to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke, Acts 7.10. They instigated some men to claim that they had heard Stephen blaspheming against God. He was brought before the council.
Stephen gave his defense to the council in Acts 7. It is a brief history lesson of God’s people from Abraham to Jesus. At the end of his sermon, he charges the Jews with murdering Jesus and not obeying his words. After looking to heaven, he stated that he could see Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Reacting in fury, they took him out of the city and stoned him. He prayed for forgiveness for the Jews as they stoned him which is similar to the prayer of Jesus on the cross, Luke 23.34.
Stephen was a man that was killed because of his preaching to which others were resistant. He did not let the fury of the crowd stop him from teaching. May we be ready to follow his example.