This man was full of grace. He was a friend of sinners willing to love the unlovely. (6:8)
He was a man of power. Magnificent signs and wonders were performed in order to heal the hurting and augment his preaching. (6:8)
However, despite his grace and power, he was opposed by chief men in the synagogues. Priests and elders disputed with him and sought to humbly put him in his place. (6;9)
But he was unlike other teachers. He was unconquerable in debate due to the Spirit who dwelt within and the wisdom that flowed forth from his heart. The best of Jewish teachers could not humble and silence this man. (6:10)
Therefore, in response, his enemies stirred up the common folk. Crowds were insighted to stand against this gracious and powerful preacher of the Gospel. (6:12)
The persecution continued and ultimately he was seized. This minister was illegally arrested and brought before the Great Council in Jerusalem. (6:12)
But though he was found in dire straits, he was not intimidated by the coalition of elders and priests before whom he stood. When given a chance to speak, he pointed them back to their Scriptures and proved to them the Messiah was at hand. Then he continued, and with unflinching boldness he called out religious leaders; they were hypocrites; they were stiff-necked resistors of the Holy Spirit. (7:1-51)
Well, as expected, this did not go over well. His enemies repented not, and instead of bowing the knee they ground their teeth in indignation. (7:54)
But this preacher of the Gospel remained confidently cool in their presence. Why? He was full of the Holy Spirit, and he was encouraged by God to keep his eye on the eternal prize that was before him. (7:55)
Well, according to Jewish Law, they could not execute the miracle working preacher within the city gates. Therefore, he was led outside the city were he was unjustly executed. (7:58)
However, he did not die like most men. in his final moments, and with his last words, he trusted God with his spirit. He even pleaded forgiveness for those sinning against him. (7:59-60)
And with his ministry and sacrifice, the Heavenly Father was well-pleased.
Friends, of whom am I speaking? You might think I am referring to Jesus of Nazareth. However, you would be wrong in that assumption. The man mentioned above is none other than Stephen, one of the men selected to lead in the distribution of funds to those widowed and in need. Saint Stephen is the one heralded by Luke and the Risen Son in Acts 6 and 7. Stephen is the one who has been immediately justified and progresively sanctified. He is the one who has made so much progress in the faith, that he is looking more and more like the Great I Am.
Therefore reader, is this you testimony? Do you have such a reputation? Are people beginning to get you and Jesus confused? Are the defining characteristics of the Great I Am that which is becoming descriptive of you? Are you a Christ-follower? Are you Christ-like? Are you daily being conformed into his image?
This should be the aim of all who are in Christ Jesus. He is the Master, and we are his followers. Therefore, today, let us pray that we will be like Christ:
- Full of Grace
- Full of Power
- Full of the Spirit
- Unconquerable in Wisdom
- Bold in Proclamation
- Cool in the Heated Place
- Persevering in Persecution
- Filled with Faith
- Hungry to Forgive
And someday, when we are finally glorified, we will be able to thank God that as “I AM,” I am.