Weekly Scripture Meditation (5-8-23)

The Text (Acts 7:55–60)

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

An Insight

This week’s passage may seem like an odd choice. It is the account of the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The religious council that puts him to death is the same one that handed Jesus over to Pilate for crucifixion. Just before Stephen is seized and dragged out of the city, he sees Jesus himself, in all his resurrected glory, standing at God’s right hand. Acts tells us he sees this vision because he is full of the Holy Spirit. His final words then almost perfectly parallel Jesus’ final words on the cross. Stephen, like Jesus, asks that his murderers be forgiven.[1] Just as Jesus committed his spirit to the Father’s hands, so Stephen commits his spirit to Jesus’ hands.[2] The resurrected Jesus has given Stephen the strength to follow in his steps, even to death.

A Timeless Principle

The religious council that condemned both Jesus and Stephen saw them as blasphemers who were dangerously upsetting the status quo. People throughout the world would go on to see all the early Christians that way. Stephen, however, knows the risen Lord, and so he knows that upsetting the status quo does not mean bringing disorder into the world. It means instead bringing salvation, joy, and peace. To both the council and the world, Jesus and Stephen suffer the deaths they deserve. Again, because Stephen knows the risen Lord, he knows that suffering and even death are not a sign of defeat but are instead the pathway of the faithful. We see in Stephen how knowing Jesus changes our entire outlook on life. It is as though we take off one pair of glasses and see the world through an entirely different pair. Knowing the risen Lord also means knowing the living Lord, which means he can actively help us follow in his steps, just as he helped Stephen here. Jesus not only changes our perspective; he also gives us the strength to live according to it.

Living the Text

Christians see life through a different pair of glasses, or at least we are supposed to. The truth is that we are continuously in the process of taking off the old glasses and putting on the new ones, with the old ones often slipping back on. How can we get used to our new glasses today? What relationship, challenges, fears, or even blessings are we continuing to see through the old lenses, and how might we see them differently through the lenses of Christ? It is through Christ’s lenses that we see how his death and resurrection light the pathway for the day. That path is full of rich blessings, but it is no secret that it is also challenging. The good news is that these are the lenses of the risen and living Lord. That means that if we ask him for help, strength, and grace, he will give it.


Heavenly Father,

You have called us to follow in the steps of your Son. He leads us down a path that appears foolish and even dangerous to the world, but those you have redeemed know it to be the path of life. We ask that you continue to reveal the ways of this new life to us. May your Son’s sacrifice and victory over death shape our words, actions, and relationships today. We ask that you not only show us the way but that you bless us with the strength and grace to walk in it.

In Jesus’ name,



[1] Luke 23:34.

[2] Luke 23:46.

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