“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.’”
-Acts 7:54-56

Stephen, the first martyr, was executed for preaching the gospel. His last words as he looks to heaven as stones are being thrown at him even though he hasn’t harmed anyone are found in the one passage in the Bible where it says Jesus is not sitting at the right hand of the Father; he’s standing at the right hand of the Father. Some theologians say that Jesus is actually giving Stephen a standing ovation.

And what are Stephen’s last words? “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” Reminds me of what Jesus said when he was being crucified, when he said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing.”

We have to understand that the reason Stephen and Jesus and other great men and women of God can say and feel this deep sense of forgiveness and love, even when they’re being beaten and persecuted, is because they’re so overflowing with God’s agape love in their souls that they can’t help it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may my soul overflow with your love so that I cannot help but be kind and of service to others. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

Reflection: When have you felt God’s love flow through you into the lives of others?

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