As the church is growing so is the discontent around it. The people are flocking to the gospel and those around are seething with envy. They can’t compete with the truth so they have to devise lies to try and stop it any way they can. Stephen is the target in our reading today.
Stephen sets precedence for us in the miracles department. I have heard it said that the Holy Spirit and miracles were only for the apostles. Well, Stephen wasn’t an apostle. He was a disciple like the rest but he was also singled out for added authority. While serving the people he “was doing great wonders and signs among the people” (verse 8). This lets the stage for the Spirit working miracles among the rest of us disciples.
Well, those looking on at Stephen’s service were jealous. They couldn’t find any fault in his actions and couldn’t dispute his teaching so they had to find some other way to get rid of him. Just like against Jesus, they used false witnesses against Stephen. They even used the same charge of blasphemy. I guess if it worked once they thought it would work again. The difference in the charge was that they said Jesus directly blasphemed by equating Himself with God where Stephen was teaching blasphemous doctrine by teaching about Jesus.
Them was fight’n words! A charge of blasphemy could get anyone riled up. These jealous men incited the people, the elders and the scribes against Stephen. All because he was doing good and gaining a following for Jesus. So they had Stephen arrested.
The last verse in this section speaks of how Stephen looked as he appeared before the council. “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (verse 15). I’m thinking that Luke is speaking of the absence of fear or anger displayed by Stephen. He was completely at peace. He was probably even excited to have this opportunity to witness for Jesus. The Spirit was so thick on him that he was fairly glowing!
Oh, to be doing so much good for God that Satan feels threatened. That would be one WONDERFUL indictment! One that I aspire to. I’ve heard it said, “The wolf doesn’t howl at the house where there is no bacon”, meaning Satan doesn’t bother attacking if there isn’t any work going on that threatens his territory. Stephen had Satan HOWLING in pain! All because of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and Who still works in us today.
Father God, I doubt I will ever be anywhere near as “frightening” to Satan as Stephen was but help me be found faithfully serving like him. Help me to speak the truth with boldness. Fill my mouth and fingers with only Your truth. Let Your Holy Spirit speak through me and silence anything that is not of You. Help me have the courage Stephen had. The courage to leave it ALL in YOUR hands.