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.”
Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:9-43 seems at first glance to wander. We may well find ourselves wondering why he spends so much time rehearsing the history of Israel. However, upon closer examination, we find that he is focused on just one thing. Stephen wants to demonstrate to the Sanhedrin that God has always preserved a remnant people. These people God raises up at different times in history are trusting in God. They are not counting on their own works to accomplish anything. We also see that the people God raises up are not readily recognized by others. This is especially true in the case of Moses, who was a foundling, was raised by foreigners, was recognized as a prince of Egypt although he was not Egyptian at all, and was clearly not expected to rescue God’s people from their captivity.
Counter to the example of Moses, when the leaders who trust in their own wisdom and strength take charge, Stephen quotes a prophecy saying they are idolators.
How is Stephen going to tie this together? He is planning to demonstrate that Jesus should have been recognized by the Sanhedrin, but that instead they have shown themselves to be idolatrous. What does Stephen say to us? He would call us to recognize and trust Jesus as the one who has been raised up. Jesus is the unexpected savior, not recognized by all. Jesus is the one in whom we can trust, as opposed to all the idols we might dream up. Stephen’s sermon is right on its target, a target easy to spot once you know what to look for.
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