Read: Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60
Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. (7:56)
The story of Stephen’s death is remarkable, and teaches us much about what following Jesus means. The first recorded martyrdom in the history of the Christian faith, Stephen’s story is a shift in the history of Jesus’ followers—after Stephen’s death it was clear that following Jesus carried significant risk.
One of the most remarkable things about Stephen’s martyrdom is what he chose to say when he was given the opportunity to defend himself. Wrongfully accused, he could have taken the chance to prove his own innocence. Instead, he told the story of Israel’s long failure to recognize the presence of God in their midst, and their inability to listen to the prophets God sent to them. Rather than defending himself, Stephen indicted the religious leaders for refusing to see who Jesus was, and for their failure to listen to the prophetic voice of the disciples. Stephen’s argument is profoundly courageous, yet with it he sealed his fate.
The early Christians, much like the Old Testament prophets, offered a message that fell on deaf ears. This pattern is true today as well: to live in the truth of the resurrection requires faith. Who dares to have hope in our difficult times? Though it seems foolish, we follow in the footsteps of Stephen, daring to stake our lives on the hope of the resurrection. —Amy Curran
As you pray, ask God to give you courage to follow him.