[When Stephen told the Jewish leaders that he saw the Son of Man at God's right hand,] they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He fell to his knees, shouting, "Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!" And with that, he died.
Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.
A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
— Acts 7:57-8:3 NLT
The leaders of the Jewish people murdered Stephen by stoning. They had asked the Romans to crucify Jesus. As Stephen died, he saw Jesus in his glory at the right hand of the Father. Rather than cursing or condemning his executioners, Stephen followed the example of his Savior, Jesus. He asked God to forgive those who were killing him. Again, similar to Jesus, he placed his spirit and his eternal future into the hands of the Lord Jesus, whom he served. Little did anyone outside the throne room of heaven know, but one of the people consenting to Stephen's death would be impacted dramatically; that person was Saul of Tarsus. Saul later had his life rerouted completely when he was on the road to Damascus where he met the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9:3-11). After turning his life over to Jesus, Saul (whom we usually call Paul) became the missionary who fulfilled the promise of reaching the Gentiles, a promise that was re-ignited by Stephen's martyrdom (Acts 22:17-21). Jesus' death opened the door for many Jewish people to come to Christ. Stephen's death led to Samaritans and Gentiles becoming followers of Jesus. Rather than stomping out the embers of the Good News message of Jesus, those early persecutors ignited a flame of hope and life that still is alive today.
O LORD, use me to be a torchbearer who shares the flame of hope with the world through the Good News of Jesus. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Acts 1:1-11
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Sunday, April 18, 2021
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.