"Martyrdom of St. Stephen" painting by Bernardo Daddi

Today: Psalms 73:1-14; Acts 7:44-60; Acts 8:1-3; 2 Samuel 18:19-33; 2 Samuel 19

Acts 7 – Martyrdom of Stephen

Stephen was the first Christian to be martyred. In Acts 7, John records Stephen’s entire chapter long speech before he was murdered. His words were obviously very important for John to include them so meticulously.

Stephen’s message recounted God’s miraculous guidance of the Israelites and demonstrated God’s sovereign power and perfect plan. His final words to the religious leaders, the words that incited them to cast him out of the city and stone him to death, were these:

“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” (v.51-53)

All their religiosity and rules could not save them. The truth “cut [them] to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth” (v.54) and “stopped their ears.” (v.57) Can’t you just see them, fingers in ears, grimacing and teeth gnashing? So triggered…

The enemy does not want to hear truth. The truth of Jesus Christ triggered the world then and it still triggers worldly people today. They stop up their ears, and gnash their teeth at it. Today they cancel, oppress, mock, slander, dox, deplatform, shadowban, suspend, boycott, and vilify the truth of Jesus Christ. We see it happening every day. The world boldly, unapologetically digitally stones anyone who dares to speak the truth of Jesus Christ.

In Canada, pastors are already being arrested for refusing to shut their doors. We’ve been able to comfortably ignore persecution for most of our lives in this country. But now it is on our doorstep. Are you ready?

Stephen should be our inspiration. He was bold and fearless because he was “full of the Holy Spirit.” He “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (v.56) And then Jesus and God welcomed him home.

2 Samuel 19

“O my son, Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 19:4

David showed such compassion and love at the death of his son, who had been trying to kill him. I believe God weeps over us in a similar way when we reject and vilify Him… when people die in their sins. His love for us is deep and fierce. His love for us never ends no matter how much we attack or hate Him.