Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 7:51-8:1a; John 6:30-35)
Stephen’s speech can be heard as incendiary. He accuses the Jewish leaders of not observing the Law. But so did Jesus! Indeed, Stephen’s actions quite closely imitate those of Jesus. He too at his execution asks forgiveness for its perpetrators. Like Jesus he dies commending his spirit to God.
Stephen’s exemplary behavior will have immense effect. One of its witnesses, Paul of Tarsus, will do an about turn in his stand toward Jesus. Evidently at the moment he finds Stephen’s words contemptible. But in short time he will, like Stephen, give testimony to Jesus’ righteousness. He too will suffer death for proclaiming Jesus as Lord.
There is plenty for us to imitate in Stephen’s story. We should proclaim the Lord Jesus by our willingness to suffer for the truth. Most of all, we should pray for our enemies, especially those who may persecute us. Then our lives also will attract others to Jesus’ righteousness.