Saturday 26 December 2015

Bible Book:

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (v. 60)

Acts 7:51-60 Saturday 26 December 2015

Psalm: Psalm 13


This passage has been selected because in many traditions todaycommemorates the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Aschapters 6 and 7 in Acts indicate, he was a vigorous advocate inJerusalem for belief in Jesus as Messiah, and was accused in courtof perverting the Jewish faith, particularly in playing down theimportance of the temple. His long speech in defence in chapter 7 illustrates both God's callingof the people of Israel and their frequent disobedience, and endswith verses 51 to 53 which are the first part of our reading. Whatfollows is not a formal verdict of guilty, but a mob reactionleading to Stephen being stoned to death.

Verses 55 to 60 echo Luke's account of Jesus' death. Stephensees Jesus exalted in heaven (verses 55-56, compare Luke22:69), he prays for his persecutors (verse 60, compare Luke23:34), and surrenders his spirit to the Lord (verse 59,compare Luke 23:46). Luke (the writer of Acts) isemphasising that Stephen is a true follower of Jesus.

Verse 58 draws our attention to the presence of Saul, later tobe called Paul. How much did the experience of that day prepare himfor his conversion on the Damascus Road (Acts9:1-19)?

In reading verses 51 to 53 we should beware of treating them asapplying to the many varieties of Jewish faith and practicetoday.

To Ponder

  • How far do you think you would be able to go to profess yourfaith under hostile pressure?
  • In what ways might verses 51 to 53 be an indictment of theChristian Church's record, past and present?
  • Would you be able, like Stephen, to pray for your enemies? Ifnot, why not?
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