Acts 7:54-60 Video Devotional

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:54-60)

Things got serious. The Jewish Council had been wringing their hands with Peter and John and the other apostles, but with Stephen they took their chance to ratchet up their response. His boldness and courage to be blatant and direct to the council was powerful and life-changing for many. Unfortunately, some of those lives were changed for the worse as they turned into murderers. This situation not only killed a hero of the faith (and our first recorded martyr of the New Testament), it also instituted a wave of persecution that led to an event called the Great Dispersion. It’s also worth noting here that one of the leaders of this persecution (at least, initially) was Saul; one who would become a hero of our faith.

The Great Dispersion is the third of three major “scatterings” recorded in the Bible. First was the Tower of Babel, then the exile from the promised land, and now this. Flowing from Jesus’ last command, however, it got the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome and out to the ends of the earth. It was a horrific event, but beneficial in a few ways: 1) it led to internal spiritual change in many people once they lost the comforts of home and were forced to fully rely on God, and 2) it pushed the gospel out of Jerusalem.

Major crisis such as this are things that no one wishes to experience, but often are remembered as important points to their individual story. This is because it pushes people deeper. You can’t experience a tragedy like this or a horrifying encounter of persecution and not be changed. Our hope is that when those happen (which unfortunately they do) you are drawn closer to the God of justice and goodness that is working this out for the good of those who love Him.