“I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
The Greek word for “witness” gives us our English word martyr. Giving up one’s life is the cost some followers pay for obeying their ascended Lord.
Stephen was about to pay that ultimate price. And his death for Christ was provoked by his witness to the heavenly meaning of the ascension. “I see heaven open,” said Stephen, “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
These words drove the religious authorities into a blind rage. They understood the meaning of the vision.
Jesus, the very one they thought they had eliminated, now rules the universe. Seated at the right hand of the Father, the ascended Lord welcomed this first martyr of the Christian faith into heaven.
I need to keep this vision of Christ’s lordship before me, and so do you. Without it, I lose courage and conviction. Everywhere around me, voices claim that all religions are the same, that the Christian faith is nothing special, and that it’s no big deal if we don’t obey Jesus. Then I stand with Stephen and see the way things really are. Christ ascended for his coronation. He is Lord of the universe. And he governs all things with a special eye on his people, his witnessing servants.
That’s a vision that inspires me to step forward and claim every square inch of this world for his reign.
Lord, when my obedience is compromised, renew my vision of your presence at God’s right hand. May your lordship inspire complete devotion to kingdom service. Amen.
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