As they battered him with stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, accept my life!” Falling to his knees, he shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them!” Then he died. Saul was in full agreement with Stephen’s murder. At that time, the church in Jerusalem began to be subjected to vicious harassment. Everyone except the apostles was scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Some pious men buried Stephen and deeply grieved over him. Saul began to wreak havoc against the church. Entering one house after another, he would drag off both men and women and throw them into prison. Those who had been scattered moved on, preaching the good news along the way. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and began to preach Christ to them. The crowds were united by what they heard Philip say and the signs they saw him perform, and they gave him their undivided attention. With loud shrieks, unclean spirits came out of many people, and many who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. There was great rejoicing in that city. (Acts 7:59—8:8, CEB)
Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus and today we get a reading of the stoning of Stephen.
Jesus was born and the world will be in peace, but part of that peace is the killing of those who follow Jesus.
Sometimes those who follow Jesus the best are also those who stone his followers the best. Saul, who is also known as Paul, is at Stephen’s stoning and agrees with it. Saul after this event went from house to house and town to town persecuting followers of the way. They were taking away from the true religion and causing issues that needed to be stopped.
We are filled with joy at the birth of Jesus, but we also need to be ready to stand and give an account of why we are joy filled and to be ready to face persecution.
Are you ready?
Loving People. Loving God.