Reflection on Acts 7:39-60

Scripture

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand.

Observation

Stephen continues his narration of the history of Israel.

Moses was rejected by the people who wanted to return to Egypt. Stephen says they carried pagan idols as well as the Ark of the Covenant through the wilderness.

He goes on to say their ancestors rejected all the prophets, and now the Jewish leaders have also rejected the Messiah the prophets has foretold.

The leaders are infuriated by Stephen’s message, and they drag him outside to kill him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, has a vision of Jesus in heaven.

Application

Stephen, throughout this show trial, was focused on God. At the beginning of his speech, we are told his face was as bright as an angel’s. Now, at the end, facing imminent death, he is full of the Holy Spirit and seeing Jesus at God’s right hand.

When we are most under pressure, facing opposition for our faith, it is then that the Holy Spirit fills us and enables us to speak for God or pray in faith, or whatever the need is at the time.

Many christians who have been imprisoned or tortured for Christ have reported that in their moments of greatest suffering, Jesus has been particularly real to them.

Stephen sees Jesus in heaven standing at the right hand side of the Father’s throne. What an amazing vision to have right at the moment of his death! It’s as if Jesus is cheering him on, “Come on Stephen! Just a few minutes and you will be here with me!”

Those momentary visions of heaven or of Jesus should be life- changing for us. It was a vision of Jesus that led to my salvation. The same vision has given me strength to continue walking with Him when tempted to give up. How could I turn my back on the one I had seen with my own eyes?

Not everyone has a literal vision of Jesus, but as we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we see Jesus more clearly and follow Him more closely.

Prayer

Lord, as I stand firm in you there will be opposition, even persecution. Grant that I may gain a clearer vision of you and grace to persevere no matter what the cost. Amen.

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