Friday, March 2, 2012

Acts 7:57-60

Summary retelling of Acts 7: 57-60:

The Sanhedrin put their hands over their ears and refused to listen to Stephen any more.  Then they dragged him out of the city and stoned him.   (More on that later)  Saul collected the outer garments of the Sanhedrin so that they would not become “dirty” or “tainted” by the act.  Stephen cried out to the Lord for God to receive Him – to look favorably on his sacrifice.  Then, he asked for their forgiveness and died.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
I can imagine this group of 72 Jewish leaders putting their hands over their ears and saying “la-la-la-la-la we can’t hear you anymore.”  Okay, not that they really did that, but it’s also not too far from what they literally did.  They refuse to listen.  By stopping up their ears what is usually understood is that they clasped their hands over their ears.  At this point the conversation is over.  The truth cannot penetrate any further.  Stephen must now die before they are forced to confess that he is right.

How sad it is to see people refuse to listen.  How sad it is to see people unwilling to talk about their prior actions and that they might actually be the one in error.

Have you ever been guilty of refusing to see your error?  How did you eventually come about seeing that you were the wrong one?  What might you still not be willing to consider how you are in the wrong?

Second Thought:
Okay, let’s talk about stoning.  Typically we think of a stoning as a time when people would pick up pebbles and pelt another person with stones.  And it did happen that way from time to time.  However, in cases of judgment like this, most courts had a place where stonings were to occur.  It actually sounds something like the tactics used by Neanderthals and other early hominids to kill mammoths.  You would drive the victim into a narrow gorge or corner them under a cliff.  Someone on top of the cliff would push a big boulder over the edge and it would crush the victim underneath it.  This is most likely the type of “stoning” that Stephen received.

How does this form of death strike you?  Would you be willing to go through with this for Christ?

Third Thought:
Much like Jesus on the cross, Stephen asks God for forgiveness on behalf of the Sanhedrin as he dies.  We’ve seen many parallels between Stephen’s time before the Sanhedrin and Jesus’ time before the Sanhedrin.  In the end, both of them die a martyr’s death praying for their accusers.  If this doesn’t say “love your enemy,” I don’t know what does.

How many of us would be willing to pray for our enemies as they were actively trying to kill us?  Why might we be unwilling to be of that mindset?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 8:1-3
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