The members of the Sanhedrin erupted. They did not like being spoken to the way Stephen had. He had told it like it was – straight from the hip and the people knew exactly where he was coming from and its logical conclusion. They did not like being called murderers – particularly as it was true.
Understandably, they became furious. Have you noticed how guilt can do that?
Actually it depends on us and how we process it. When Nathan the prophet accused David over David’s adultery with Bathsheba, instead of David exploding and killing Nathan, he wept and asked God to forgive him. He repented and got back in line with God’s purposes for his life.
These people were just as guilty but, instead of repenting, decided to deflect the ‘problem’ away from them and onto the innocent Stephen. Sin has a way of trying to justify itself, doesn’t it? Stephen should never have spoken to them that way. He should have tried to win them over. Alienating them was the worst thing he could have done and look what happened next.
Truth hurts. It exposes falsehood. However, truth is always best. Yes, it may hurt – our pride. It may even hurt my employment, if I am asked to be dishonest and refuse – but in the end, truth will usually exonerate the innocent. Yes, it may be after their death but truth has a habit of exposing wrong sooner or later.
The Bible puts it this way – Numbers 32: 23 Be sure your sins will find you out. My parents drummed that into me while I was still very young and it remains with me to this day. I guess it remains with me because over the decades it has proven to be true.
Oh yes, this society may try and convince us that we are victims of our circumstances but the truth will expose that lie in the end. We are responsible for our actions, our attitudes and our choices, and the sooner we learn that the better. The better it will be for us, the better it will be for our families and friends, and the better it will be for society. We are not victims; we are choosers.
Stephen chose to tell the truth. The members of the Sanhedrin chose to kill Stephen, just as they had chosen to kill Jesus, the Son of God.
Stephen, however, looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand side of God in all His majestic splendour. What a picture. Not a bad vision to receive just then, was it?
Do you recognise the amazing grace of God towards Stephen? That vision did two things for Stephen. Firstly, it proved to Stephen that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead. He was alive – dead men don’t stand. Yes, Jesus did ascend into Heaven. Yes, He was accepted by God the Father, so His Death was adequate for our sins – we are forgiven. It also showed Jesus standing in honour of the step he was taking; Stephen was the first Christian martyr to give his life for the Kingdom of God.