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.”
As Acts 7 comes to a close, Stephen’s testimony to the Sanhedrin provokes them to anger. Stephen has demonstrated that God has always used messengers who are not recognized by most people. He has demonstrated that Jesus is the one God raised up as the Son of God. He has reminded the court that they were the people who wanted Jesus to be killed. He has spoken of God’s free grace.
Now, in verses 54-60, the Jewish leaders take Jesus out of the city and kill him by throwing stones at him. Stephen dies, praying that the Lord would not consider the evil of those who killed him. In this very real way, Stephen is reminiscent of Jesus. He has shown how God works in history, he has been rejected, and he was executed, asking God to forgive those who killed him.
In a piece of literary ingenuity, just as the death, resurrection, and departure of Jesus led to the coming of a new character, the Holy Spirit, the author of Acts here introduces us to a new character, Saul. He is in a position overseeing the stoning. He will later emerge as one of the prime movers of the apostolic age, known better as the apostle Paul.
Like Saul, each of us can be confronted with the claims of Christ. Though we may reject them, even violently, God the Holy Spirit still works in his people. May he call us to the same sort of faithful life we will later see in Paul.
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