Read Acts 7:54-60
“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (v. 56)
When Stephen was falsely charged before the Sanhedrin, he courageously used the opportunity to confront the religious leaders about their historic persecution of the prophets and their recent rejection of Jesus. Such an affront to their reputation and authority angered the council members, who were “cut to the heart” and “gnashed . . . their teeth” (Acts 7:54). Stephen’s proclamation that followed, however, triggered immediate action. His claim that Jesus was standing at the right hand of God led the council to abandon all further discussion, preempting justice to deliver the immediate judgment of stoning for alleged blasphemy. In light of the council’s ability to mete out capital punishment, what inspired such courage in Stephen? Acts 6:8 reveals that Stephen was so “full of faith and power” that he “did great wonders and miracles.” Stephen believed so much in God and drew so much strength from God that even mortal danger did not shift his focus from his Savior. Even as the stones pummeled his body, Stephen — being filled with the Spirit — followed the example of his Savior by praying for his persecutors, by offering forgiveness with his final words: “Lay not this sin to their charge.” (Lyle A. Witt)
Tho’ I falter, His arm will hold me; I can rest on His strength and grace; Tho’ the darkness of night enfold me, Soon I know I shall see His face. — Civilla Martin
Stephen’s courage came from knowing and trusting Jesus.