‘And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out
with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:59-60)
Right from the beginning of the church, Christians have faced opposition and persecution. Acts 6 and 7 record the story of Stephen, who was falsely accused of blasphemy and stoned to death. That was utterly unjust. And yet, we read how Stephen prayed for his enemies even when he was dying.
The parallel with Jesus’ death is stunning. Both Jesus and Stephen were falsely accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy. They both committed their spirit into the hands of God the Father, trusting in His love and care. And they both asked God to forgive the people who killed them.
In all this, Stephen was really a follower of Jesus Christ. We read that he was “full of the Holy Spirit” and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God in the hour of his death. This story is an example of the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV): “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.
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