Acts 7:54-60

Throughout the Easter Season, the daily devotions have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is John Lacy.

“When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

“Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.” Acts 7:54-60

Stephen had just finished preaching in the synagogue where he had fearlessly accused the members there of the same crime (blasphemy) that he was being accused of, and they were angry, angry enough to kill him.  Then, what happened to him very much parallels what happened at Christ’s crucifixion, even down to Christ’s prayer, “forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and Stephen’s “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Until now, I had not really associated this passage with the Easter story per se, but yet it surely is. Just as Christ’s crucifixion is really the necessary start of the true Easter story (ie. Christ’s Resurrection).  He had to die to live again.

This brought to mind one of my favorite gospel hymns, “Because He Lives.” (Written in the 1970’s by Bill and Gloria Gaither.)  The lines in the refrain “Because HE lives, All fear is gone, Because I know HE holds the future,” seem to fit Stephen’s situation exactly.

I’m writing this devotion on the day Billy Graham died, and a line from one of his sermons somewhat captures this idea. Graham once said “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Today, most Christians are not martyred for proclaiming their belief in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. (Though some, in some parts of the world, indeed are).  So, let us be thankful that, “Life is worth the living, Because HE lives.”

Let us pray: Thank you Lord for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and thank you for martyrs such as Stephen.  Amen.


One Response to “Acts 7:54-60”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    John, you shared one of your favorite gospel hymns, “Because You Live” as it reminded you of martyr Stephen’s predicament in today’s text. This prompted me in turn to share the Easter hymn, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” with you and your readers.

    1 I know that my Redeemer lives!
    What joy this blest assurance gives!
    He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
    he lives, my ever-living Head!

    2 He lives triumphant from the grave;
    he lives eternally to save;
    he lives exalted, throned above;
    he lives to rule his church in love.

    3 He lives to bless me with his love;
    he lives to plead for me above;
    he lives my hungry soul to feed;
    he lives to help in time of need.

    4 He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend;
    he lives and loves me to the end;
    he lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing;
    he lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!

    5 He lives, all glory to his name!
    He lives, my Saviour, still the same;
    what joy this blest assurance gives:
    I know that my Redeemer lives!

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