DEVOTIONAL – SEP 11
THE FIRST MARTYR
Leslie M. John
“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8)
The life of Stephen recorded in the Bible draws our attention to the fact that he was full of faith and power. He was the first martyr in the New Testament period. The high priest was jealous of hearing about the miracles and wonders that Stephen did with great power and faith in Jesus.
All those who were against Stephen’s stand for Jesus rose up against him disputing with him but could not resist the wisdom and the spirit that was in him by which he did miracles and wonders. Those who determined to work against Stephen were accusing him falsely that he was speaking blasphemy against Moses and their God. They caused emotional stir up among people and brought Stephen before the council for a trial.
Even as they laid false charge against Stephen that he said Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy that place, and would change the customs of Moses gave to them, they saw that the face of Stephen was shining like that of an angel. (Acts 6:8-15)
The high priest who was more or like the mouth of the court asked Stephen if he was speaking blasphemy against their God and was working to see that the customs of Moses were changed.
Stephen full of power and grace from God spoke elaborately outwitting the knowledge of the high priest. The elders, scribes and the people brought him to stand before high priest to face the false charges lodged against him.
Stephen defended by speaking about Abraham with whom God made covenant and explained in detail about the Almighty God, who dwelt not in the temples made with hands but whose throne is Heaven, and whose footstool is the earth. He spoke about the God of Israel who delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery and he spoke about Moses whom God had appointed as the leader to stand boldly before Pharaoh. He spoke of about Joseph whom God had sent ahead of his parents and his brethren to Egypt to find sustenance for them before there came great famine in the land of Egypt and Canaan.
Stephen gave the God of Israel the glory due unto His name. He did not speak blasphemy but recognized the protection the Lord gave to His children. He spoke of the mighty power of God that humbled all his enemies and the enemies of the children of Israel. He did not speak a word against Lord Jesus Christ; rather he gave glory unto name of Lord Jesus Christ.
As the people stoned him he called upon Lord Jesus Christ and prayed to receive his spirit. And, even as he was breathing his last, he said, ‘lay not this sin to their charge’.
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep”. (Acts 7:59-60)