Updated: Mar 30, 2022
He cried in agony as they dragged him through the city by his ankles. His skin began to rip open as his back was beat against the rock-encrusted path. They finally halted outside of Jerusalem with a crowd congregating around the scene. Cast aside like a murderer, an adulterer, or a rapist, his only crime was to be filled with the Spirit and wisdom. He noticed several hands reaching to the ground to grasp their chosen weapons. The first smooth stone pelted his chest. Just as he gasped for air from the surprise of the impact, another rock struck his shin.
Hadn’t the apostles just prayed and laid hands on him to bless his role as a deacon in the Church to help the widows? The Gospel had begun spreading like a wildfire and the number of disciples had increased. This man of God had performed wonders that could have only come from the power of God.
But in the middle of his ministry, certain groups of Jews began to notice and disapprove. The young Greek continued to draw crowds of people with his signs and his controversial words. How dare he go against the law, members of the Synagogue of the Freedman muttered as their lips curled in disdain. They spoke out against the man’s words but could never win an argument.
In a turn of desperation, the disgruntled members began to seethe lies of this man’s blasphemy against the Jewish faith. With enough of the elders and teachers of the law on their side, they seized the evangelist and cast him before the Sanhedrin.
Gasps resounded throughout the room as the man’s face shone in a ray of light. When asked to defend his charges, he instead gave an account of the assembly’s history. He spoke of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and Solomon. He continued in boldness and truth to accuse the Sanhedrin of denying and murdering their Redemption while in their house of worship.
In a rage of fury and incredulity, they began to threaten his life. Yet, it seemed as if he were not listening. He looked up toward the heavens, with the same shine on his face, and exclaimed, “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God…”
No one could count how many stones had now beat against the shattered body.
“How could he still be alive,” the mob began to mutter.
And in that moment, while stones still pounded against Stephen’s throbbing earthly shell, I heard him say, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
A small boulder brought him to his knees. He glanced at me and then to the heavens and gasped in a moment of grace, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
And then he was no more.
After brushing the dust off my robe, I picked up the coats and handed them back to his jury. My work had only just begun.
Looking for songs about God's grace? Check out these songs from Red Letter Society:
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