But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand.
Stephen stands before the Sanhedrin. At the end of his testimony, the Jewish leaders are enraged. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, sees the glory of God. He tells them, “I see the Son of Man at God’s right hand.”
The leaders drag Stephen off to be stoned. The accusers give their coats to Saul to be minded.
As they stone him, Stephen calls out to Jesus to receive his spirit and then, as he dies, for mercy for his killers.
The gospel upsets people for all kinds of reasons. Some don’t want to be confronted by sin, others don’t want to be confronted by grace, and still others fear that the gospel will somehow stop them from making money from sin.
While we should not go looking for opposition or persecution, we should not be surprised when it comes.
Even so, we need to remain gracious to those who oppose us, seeking to bring them to a knowledge of Jesus.
Father, give grace to all who are facing death or violence because of their love for you. May their tormentors be moved by your love. Amen.