Letter to Stephen's Family. Acts 6-7
2/15/2017 12:01:26 AM
Letter to Stephen’s family. Acts 6-7
From the Jewish believers in Jesus Christ living in Jerusalem.
Shalom aleykhem. We are sorry to bear this news to you, but want you to know all we know about your son, Stephen. It is with deep regret that we want you to know that Stephen has been killed--stoned to death on false charges. We loved him and respected him so much that we had chosen him to be one of seven men who would help with the administration of money and food to the poor in our community, particularly the widows.
There was something about Stephen we all noticed; he seemed to have an extra measure of God's grace about him. The Holy Spirit equipped him to actually do miracles among the people, which caused more people to believe in the Name. Unfortunately, that was noticed by the Sanhedrin, and they would not stand for it. They went so far as to bribe some men to tell lies against Stephen. They said he was a traitor to God and to Moses. Though it was a lie, he was arrested nonetheless.
Then, once his trial began the same people who had lied about him showed up, and said Stephen had spoken against the Temple and against the Law. Being a devout Jew yourself, you know how crucial the Temple and the Law are to our faith. When that lie was uttered, it seemed the whole 70 turned their heads as one to size up Stephen, as to whether or not he would be capable of such a saying, and when they did, Stephen's face fairly shown! Why, he was radiantly beautiful, and I am certain I shall never see such a thing this side of Heaven!
When the high priest inquired of Stephen as to the truth of the accusations, Stephen stood up and without missing a beat, launched into an impassioned recounting of Jewish history, that only a faithful Jew could cite so accurately--from Abraham and the birth of our faith, and going right on through the building of the Temple.
Though I know the story well, I shall never tire of how God continued to deliver His people, as time after time, they turned their backs on Him. Stephen started with God’s call of Abraham, and discussed Isaac, Jacob, and God’s leading of Joseph… how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt under Moses' leadership. Then, after Joshua led our people into Canaan, there were God's explicit instructions for the Tabernacle to be built. And as you know, Solomon, David's son, eventually built the great temple. Then something seemed to snap inside Stephen, as he could restrain himself no longer before these men, and yelled at them, 'You pagans! Your ancestors always murdered the men who predicted that Jesus would come! And then, when He did come, YOU murdered him!"
Well, the council (the Sanhedrin), was absolutely infuriated by Stephen's words. . . and then to make matters worse, Stephen looked up toward Heaven, and said, "Look! Heaven has opened up, and I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" They began shouting at him, and then someone picked up a rock and threw it at him, and he began to run, and many ran after him. He ran through the city streets trying to get away, and though he made it just out of the city gate, it was there they smashed him with rocks. I am so sorry. You would have been so proud of your beloved son, because though he was bleeding and stunned, he cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"--and just before he collapsed, he even said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." While it does not even seem possible, Stephen died at peace--may God rest his soul.
Our congregation prays for you and yours. Please do the same for us here. . .
With sincere greetings and love, I remain your obedient servant,
Luke describes Stephen as "full of God's grace and power". . .
Full of God’s grace and power ~ I want some of that. You?