Brought before the Jewish Council (Matt. 26:57-62), Jesus bore testimony to them that He was the Christ, the Son of God (27:63). For His affirming that truth, they condemned Him to die (27:65-66).
Some time later, Stephen was brought before the Jewish council (Acts 6:8-12), which no doubt at that time still had on it many of the same people who were on it when Jesus was brought before them. God then allowed many of the same people who had condemned Jesus to death to hear the same truth from Stephen (7:56) that they had heard from Jesus (Matt. 27:63) but rejected. They responded by putting Stephen to death (Acts 7:57-60).
Through Stephen, therefore, God allowed many of those who had been responsible for condemning His Son to death to hear again the truths that they needed to hear to be saved. Sadly, however, they rejected the truth yet again.
For these people who had in a horrific way more than once rejected God’s salvation, Stephen, as he was dying, prayed that their sins would not be laid to their charge (7:60). Through Stephen’s remarkably gracious prayer, God testified to them His desire for them to be spared the punishment that they so richly deserved for their sins.
The incredible mercy of God shines forth brilliantly in His dealings with these who put His Son to death and martyred Stephen. Truly, He is a God who delights in mercy!