“You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.”
When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! ” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin! ” And saying this, he fell asleep.”
Everything that Stephen had taught them went over fine as long as it was a history lesson.
They loved the way he talked about Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and maybe even the prophets there at the end. His speech was elegant and covered the most patriotic and religious moments of their shared history.
But when it came to their actions–the criticism of their lifestyle–the condition of their hearts, they didn’t even want to hear what he said. They covered their ears so that they wouldn’t even let the words of correction hit their eardrums.
Is that us?
Sometimes I go weeks enjoying the coolness of the connection of the Old Testament with the New Testament, but the life-changing corrections from Jesus just skip across my heart like the perfect rock on the perfect lake.
Or I read books and hear teachings that would be so good if my brother were here to hear this sermon. Or this quote in this book is so good I need to share it with my wife so she can do it. It would help her out so much.
They screamed. They covered their ears. They rushed at him.
Stephen, on the other hand, is looking up and can see Jesus. As bad as the situation is, (I mean, he’s going to die!) he can look and see what Jesus is doing. If any of those screamers would pay attention, they might see what Stephen sees. That is, supposedly, the goal of their whole lives.
But they don’t see it.
Sure, in a bit, one of them is going to be shown unspeakable mercy and he’ll see Jesus. God will knock him off his horse and strike him blind, but one of those attackers will eventually worship Jesus.
And Stephen’s prayer will be answered. “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” When he saw the glory and greatness of Christ, he didn’t need revenge or justice. Jesus was enough.