Andy Hallett has prepared the notes this week. The passage can be read here.
The Stoning of Stephen
How do we react when there is a miscarriage of Justice? Either the guilty walk away ‘scot free’ or the innocent suffer for a crime that they have not done! The above picture looks pretty gruesome but stoning a man to death is really horrible.
Notice the difference between Stephen and the Sanhedrin. Notice to the similarities between Stephen’s death and that of the Lord Jesus. The Sanhedrin were furious, gnashing their teeth, full of anger, they cover their ears, yell at the top of their voices, they rush at him, drag him out of the city and stone him.
Stephen had not done anything wrong, he had not blasphemed against God, but the crowd stirred up by ‘religious fever’ prompted by the Sanhedrin was bludgeoned to death with large stones thrown by an angry mob. He died not in fear or despair but with a vision of God’s glory. He saw Jesus standing ready to welcome him into heaven. FF Bruce writes;
‘Stephen has been confessing Christ before men, and now he sees Christ confessing his servant before God’.
Stephen is over flowing with forgiveness. As he is being stoned asks God to receive his spirit. Stephen entrusted himself to God who judges justly.
Jesus too was killed totally unjustly. The charges against him were not true. The mob stirred up by the Jewish rulers shouted for Jesus to be crucified. When upon the cross he cried out that those who crucified him would be forgiven. He dismisses his spirit into God the Fathers hands.
In some small way Stephen was reflecting the death of the Lord Jesus.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” (Psalm 115:16)
Stephen had been a faithful servant and was rewarded for his service he saw Jesus’ glory and then entered heaven.
The persecution of Gods church starts with Saul’s approval. Gods scattered people take his message to their new homes and the church grows.
God is in control of our lives. We are to trust him at all times remembering that we are very precious in his sight. When we are going through challenging times remember that they will pass. We need to put our problems into perspective; they are not usually as large as they can appear!
At God’s appointed time Christians will be welcomed into heaven where we will be received without fault, with great joy before a glorious God. In the meantime let’s ensure that our trials give others the opportunity to see that we are trusting Jesus.