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Acts 7:44-60 – The Death of Stephen

Stephen’s sermon ends with his two themes:

1. It was a long time after Israel entered the land before they had a temple and the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands. To reduce God’s presence and revelation to a building is idolatrous. God’s presence and revelation is in Jesus.

2. The Old Testament fathers of the Sanhedrin, rejected Joseph, Moses and killed the prophets God sent to announce Jesus’ coming – and now they have betrayed and murdered Jesus. They might have the law, but they have not kept it because keeping it would mean accepting Jesus.

The response of what is supposed to be the holy Sanhedrin of Israel is that the priests and religious leaders become enraged and ground their teeth against him like wild murderous animals. The contrasting picture is Stephen who full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Usually Jesus is portrayed as sitting in heaven. What an amazing thought that the Greatest One stands to receive his servants.

Stephen’s last words are, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” His witness is complete. The murderers of Jesus cannot stand to even hear of such a vision – but they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

It is worthwhile mediating on the difference between the death of Ananias and Stephen – and the similarities between the death of Stephen and Jesus. Ananias dies as a Judas. Stephen dies following the master.