Scripture Reading — Acts 7:54-60
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” — Acts 7:59
Stephen was known “as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He was one of the first leaders chosen in the early church to help with providing food and other needs for others. Stephen is also described as “a man full of God’s grace and power,” and the religious leaders who opposed the early church “could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke” (Acts 6:8, 10).
Those leaders hated Stephen so much that they had him arrested and put on trial. Then, when he was asked about the charges against him, Stephen gave a long speech about God’s faithful work in history through his prophets, even though the people of Israel were often unfaithful. God even sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Righteous One, the Messiah, but these very leaders had murdered him (Acts 7:1-53).
When Stephen said that, the religious leaders became furious, and they dragged him out to stone him to death. But Stephen looked up and saw Jesus in heaven, and he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he asked, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Stephen suffered and died for his faith in Jesus. And although he was killed, his example inspired many others to speak out and live for Christ. And by the power and wisdom of the Spirit, the Lord has built his church to reach out and serve people so that it brings the same saving message of God’s love to the world today.
Spirit of God, give us your wisdom to speak the truth and live by it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.