Wednesday 29 December 2021

Bible Book:

'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit… Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died. (vs 59, 60)

Acts 7:51-60 Wednesday 29 December 2021

Psalm 13


At Christmas we enjoy the opportunity to feast. But when we have had our roast Christmas dinner, cold meat and pickles, and turkey curry we can find ourselves longing for something different to turkey. This week we jump from the birth of Jesus to the story of Stephen and his martyrdom; our 'something different'.

We have already explored a little of how the account of the life of Jesus encourages us to discipleship. With Stephen, we come to a practical example of one who chose to follow Jesus. Stephen was committed to his faith; he was uncompromising in his faith and in the challenge that he presented to those who heard him speaking and preaching.

Stephen was very blunt in how he was speaking to his Jewish audience; he was as far from being conciliatory as it is possible to be. As he was stoned, he commended his spirit to Jesus and in echoes of the crucifixion of Jesus he asked that their sins be not held against them.

For Stephen the possibility of death was always part of his understanding of his commitment to following Jesus. Given the tensions and uncertainties of his day, that was a realistic expectation. I am not sure that the same tensions exist today, and certainly not the same active opposition. We are more likely to experience indifference and apathy rather than hostility. While it may not be as severe as stoning, having something that is integral to our sense of being treated as trivial and superficial can be difficult to handle.

To Ponder:

  • What will we take a stand for? How much will we put up with as we take a stand?
  •  Some people who believe we need to reduce greenhouse gases were prepared to go to jail for their belief. What consequences are we prepared to accept as we make our following of Jesus a visible reality?
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