The following table presents strikingly parallel statements concerning the experiences of Jesus and Stephen at the end of their lives:
|And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled (Matt. 26:57). Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death (26:59).||Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God (Acts 6:11).|
|And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council (6:12).|
|But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses (26:60),||And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law (6:13).|
|And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days (26:61)||For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us (6:14).|
|And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God (26:62-63).||Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (7:1).|
|Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (26:64).||But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God (7:55-56).|
|Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death (26:65-66).||Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him. . . . (7:57-58)|
|Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).||And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (7:59). And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (7:60).|
|And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (23:46).|
How do we account for these striking parallels between Jesus’ and Stephen’s responses and actions in very similar circumstances? Surely, the explanation is found in the references to Stephen’s relationship to the Holy Spirit, who produced Christ-likeness in Stephen: “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5) . . . And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake (6:10). . . . But he, being full of the Holy Ghost (7:55) . . .”
God has given us these accounts to teach us that we are to honor Him through Christ-likeness that is produced by His Holy Spirit’s working in us in all the circumstances of our lives.
This sermon provides much more about Stephen as a man who honored God.
Copyright © 2011-2021 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.