Stones For Stoning
When Mary and I moved into our re-modeled Austin stone home, I went exploring in the back of our lot. Underneath the branches of a big cedar tree, I found a pile of rocks.
Slowly, I’ve been picking up these stones and using them to line our gravel driveway. The other day trying to get one of the heavy ones lined up, I dropped it on my hand. Man, did it hurt.
In Jerusalem this kind of hard white stone is plentiful, and the mob who got infuriated against Stephen didn’t have any trouble finding them and hurling them against Stephen to shut his mouth. His entire body felt what I felt only in my hand, but his life didn’t end in all this angry stoning.
“When they heard the close of Stephen’s defense, their hearts became infuriated and they gnashed their teeth against him. But being full of the Holy Spirit he fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus, standing at God’s right hand. Stephen said, ‘Look, I see Heaven standing open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
Then those in the Sanhedrin shouted loudly, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him. They drove him outside the city and stoned him to death. The witnesses against Stephen who executed him took off their outer robes and threw them at the feet of a young man named Saul. Now while they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Kneeling down, he cried with a great voice, ‘Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.’ After saying this, he died.” Acts 7:54-60
Jesus said that those who believe in him, even if they die physically, they will live (John 11:25). Here Stephen, the Church’s first martyr, proves that Jesus can deliver on what he promised. Even a stoning only becomes the door into God’s presence and a welcome home from his Son
LORD, the forgiving spirit Stephen expresses reveals the kind of heart we need to be exhibiting even when we are misunderstood, abused, and threatened today. Give me courage to believe that your Spirit residing in my life will give me this kind of dying grace when the time comes.
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