When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Showing Us Reality
The world can sometimes be a pretty harsh place for people who love Jesus. Christian beliefs are being challenged seemingly every day in courtrooms, classrooms, and communities. You may have members of your own family who would prefer never to talk about religion. Maybe some have even stopped going to larger family gatherings because they’re afraid they will be asked to answer questions about their faith, or lack thereof. In some places in the world today, Christians lose their lives when they openly confess their faith. It’s not always easy to follow Jesus.
Maybe that’s why God recorded what happened to Stephen. In Acts chapter 7, Stephen had just confessed his Christian faith in front of a large group of people. But rather than applaud his confession, they reacted in a very hostile way, even eventually throwing stones at Stephen and killing him. But before he died, the Bible tells us that Stephen looked up to heaven and saw something that gave Stephen sufficient strength to endure the horrible things that were happening to him.
Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God, ready to welcome him home to the heaven Jesus won for Stephen through his perfect life and innocent death. There are any number of words you might use to describe what Stephen saw that day: Amazing. Glorious. Comforting. But one word we can certainly use to describe what he saw is this: Reality. Stephen saw reality. He was allowed to see, in a special way, what is happening every moment of every day.
The risen Jesus, who is more powerful than death, the devil, and sin, sees all the challenges his people face on account of their faith; and he is right now ruling over all of it, making sure that none of it will take them away from the place in heaven he has already prepared for them.
Lord Jesus, may the reality that you are ruling all things give me confidence to follow you no matter what I face. Amen.