Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

Speaking the Truth

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Reading: Acts 7:55-58

Verse 55: “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God.”

Today and tomorrow’s passage from the end of Acts 7 comes at the end of a larger story. In chapter 6 Stephen begins to proclaim the good news and to do “great wonders and miraculous signs.” Clearly the power of God is with him. Jewish opposition begins to rise but they cannot stand up to the truth that Stephen speaks. So they drum up a false charge and haul him before the Sanhedrin. Then, in chapter 7 now, Stephen gives these religious leaders an overview of their history, beginning with Abraham and going down through Moses. He cites the example of the people rejecting Moses (and therefore God) before asking, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?” Stephen then reminds them that they “betrayed and murdered” the righteous one, Jesus Christ. At this the members of the Sanhedrin “were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.” Brought to this point of raging anger, we turn to verse 55.

Here we read, “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God.” In the midst of this trial, God reassures Stephen. He receives a vision from heaven. He sees Jesus “standing at the right hand of God.” It brings Stephen calm, peace, and joy in the midst of the storm that has been whipped up by his Holy Spirit fueled speech. Still full of the Spirit, Stephen proclaims, “I see heaven open and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” Jesus is standing, ready to welcome Stephen home.

This vision and proclamation is more than the religious leaders can bear. They drag him out of the city and begin to stone him, killing yet another prophet. As it was with Jesus, speaking the truth came with a cost. It was one that was gladly and willingly paid. May we be as willing.

Prayer: Lord God, even though I am unlikely to find myself in as threatening of a position as Stephen did, grant me the courage to speak truth to power all of the time. Lead and guide me by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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