Stephen continues his reciting of history, and his interpretation of that history, through most of this reading. We see Moses rejected by the people of God, in their grumbling and desire to return to Egypt. Stephen also recites from the prophets, and their condemnation of the willful stubborn refusal to respond to God’s activity by the leaders of the people of God, which led to their exile. He challenges them with this: “Your stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit……..They even killed those who predicted the coming of the righteous one. And now you have betrayed and murdered him – you who have received the law that was given through angels, but have not obeyed it.” And the result of his faithful ‘Remembering’ was his stoning. This whole event was reminiscent of the way they treated Jesus; before the Sanhedrin, lies and trumped up charges, anger at his declaration of the truth, which leads to his stoning death at their hands. At the end, Stephen commends his Spirit as he sees the heavens opened and Jesus, his Lord, at the right hand of the Father, and he concludes by asking that the sin of his murderers not be held against them, as they don’t understand what they are doing.
What can we ‘Remember’ from Stephen’s story of faith and obedience? Is Jesus your key to understanding God’s activity in this world, to our understanding of ourselves and the God of the Bible? If your answer is yes, what actions can you point to that reveal this? Knowledge is a great thing, but arrogance about knowledge is an obstacle to God’s activity in our lives, our church, and our world. Ask Jesus to reveal to you any areas in your life where your knowledge about God has become fossilized, and your heart hardened; an obstacle to God’s activity in your life now, and take the time to repent. How open to God’s activity are you, in the present. What part does the Lordship of Jesus play in your thoughts, words and activity?