The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
It is easy for us to expect the New Testament to be a time of grace. We would like to be kind, or at least we think it would be nice if we were. However, kindness is sometimes very forceful. In Acts 7:51-53, Stephen condemns the Sanhedrin. He speaks of their hard hearts. He says they always reject the work of the Holy Spirit. He says very plainly that the Sanhedrin is just the kind of people who rejected and persecuted the prophets. They are murderers.
How do we receive this? Well, the fact is, it’s true. As Jesus has pointed out that our anger is tantamount to murder, Stephen points out the rejection of Christ is an act which could condemn all the followers of the Sanhedrin to destruction.
This is actually a kind speech. When we are wrong, we need to be confronted. We need to be pulled up short and redirected. What is the goal of Stephen’s condemnation? Maybe some of the people on the Sanhedrin will repent and trust Jesus. Maybe they can be rescued from their self-destruction. Likewise, when Christians confront sin, our hope should be that there will be repentance leading to faith and forgiveness. May we be faithful to the message of God’s grace in Christ.
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