Today we pick up the story exactly where it left off yesterday. Stephen, the newly appointed leader of the local food back, has been arrested and brought before the court to explain himself. He had been accused of blasphemy.
As he responds, you can almost see the collective nodding as Stephen outlines Israelite history for almost 50 verses. He tells them what they already know. He clarifies that he in fact believes the same things about the prophets that they do. No blasphemy to be seen.
But then we get to verse 51:
“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That is what your ancestors did, and so do you!”
He could have just left it at the history lesson but he didn’t. Why?
It looks like freedom was within his grasp but instead he speaks words that lead to his murder at the hands of an angry mob.
A closer look at his 50 verse sermon reveals that he was building a profound argument in his history lesson. An argument that finds it’s climax in verse 48.
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.”
Stephen was building that case that God had desired to be present and known by his people. The people, in response, routinely chose to prioritize what they could could control. While the temple was instructed by God the people of the day had elevated the temple itself over relationship with God. The temple had become an idol.
They had traded genuine relationship with God for something they could control – the temple.
This is a sharp critique: The thing they valued most was in fact an idol. (!!!)
This is why the work of Jesus is so profound. The work of Jesus is not a work we have done. We cannot build anything to add to Jesus work. We cannot improve it. We cannot add to it. It is complete. It is finished. Our response is to recognize him and yield our very lives to him.
Stephan’s very words are validated a moment later as he has a supernatural vision of heaven. A vision of Jesus himself set upon the throne!
The response was rage. Anger. Fury. Murder.
When our hearts our hard towards God we will either respond with apathy or with anger to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
When our hearts are soft towards the Holy Spirit our very lives find a different source of value to the point that they are offered (perhaps to the point of death) to him who loves us and desires us.
The journey continues this week:
Monday: Acts 7
Tuesdays: Acts 8
Wednesday: Acts 9
Thursday: Acts 10
Friday: Acts 11
Saturday: Acts 12
Sundays: Acts 13