“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Stephen’s story is a common one with an uncommon ending. All who have attempted to share the love of Christ with others have experienced the crowd turn on us. The very ones we have prayed for, and stepped out in faith to share with, have accused us of wrong doing, and lashed out against us. Unfortunately for Stephen, these men lashed out not only with words, but also with stones. Stephen was taken outside the city, as if he were a false prophet, and stoned to death. A martyr could be defined as one who lives for Christ, even if it means dying for Christ. Stephen is not the only martyr the church has ever seen, but he was the first.
As Stephen is facing his execution, he looks up, and for a moment the veil separating the eternal from the temporal is removed, and he is able to see the Throne of Grace. Something fascinating happens; Jesus, who sat down at the right hand of God after his ascension, is standing. We know that the work of salvation was completed on the cross, so He is standing for another purpose. That purpose was to honor the one who was honoring Him; to welcome Stephen into glory.
From earth’s perspective, Stephen failed. He attempted to share Christ with a group of people while only making them angry, and losing his life. From Heaven’s perspective, he receives the highest honor, as Jesus stands to welcome him home. It is my personal desire, that each of us will receive that welcome when we step into glory. That we, like Stephen, will choose to live, not for acceptance in this age, but in the one to come. You never know whose life you may impact. It was after Stephen’s death that Paul is first mentioned. It seems that this young man’s bold stand for Christ was one of the influencing events in winning Paul to Christ.
Let’s seek to live for Christ today, keeping our eyes on the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.