From what I have read, Stephens's entire ministry is summed up in two events: delivering meals to the widows and his last profound, bold, fire bringing, leadership correcting, calling on the carpet, heavens open, wild and public speech! Chapter seven is all about Stephen schooling the scholars. And they were mad.
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him” Acts 7:9 NIV
Oh, snap! I can’t help thinking that when he said this verse about Joseph and the patriarchs' jealousy, he wasn’t feeling the same atmosphere of betrayal and rejection. But this verse ends with, “But God was with him.” Stephen’s life was short, but God was with Him. His Ministry was small, but God was with Him.
What he did with his smallness was legendary! His name is historical. His faith is inspiring. His courage is contagious! And his final breath was a glowing review from heaven! He saw Jesus, and the people saw the light. Stephen's persecution and death were the birthings of another legendary apostle; Saul the murder becomes Paul, the preacher.
I wonder if the Lord showed Stephen that his death would launch a movement and a conversion of the man who would lead the missions. I wonder if Stephen felt pain when being pelted with rock after rock. (Remember, he began to experience the glory of God before the throwing of the first stone. See Acts 6:15) I wonder if those who threw the rocks and witnessed the shine on Stephens's face heard his loving and kind words of forgiveness. I wonder if the mob felt remorse.
The final day, final breath, and final deed of Stephen activated the launch of half the New Testament. His short life was lived in invisible service to the forgotten. But his death was seen by many, and it created a movement. Sweet Stephen is known for his courageous faith, uncompromising stand, and unbelievable forgiveness amid persecution!
May we all follow this young man’s lead in our life; Serving faithfully, even when unnoticed, confidently preaching the truth, and standing steadfast in the midst of betrayals, lies, and accusations. And if we must die, may it be with boldness and forgiveness on our lips, declaring the Goodness of the Lord and that He Is with Us!