AND JESUS STOOD UP!

 

Stephen stoned1

In my first “Study Nuggets” post, I said I would follow up with a post about Egypt seasons.  That study seems to be growing from a nugget to a chunk, so I’ll have to lay that one on the back burner to simmer for a while.  In the meantime, as I read the book of Acts, I was reminded of a powerful message preached by Iona Locke in the 80s entitled “And Satan Stood Up”. Her text was taken from 1 Chronicles 21:1 which says, “And satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”  David was influenced by the devil to act in complete disobedience to God’s command which resulted in severe consequences.  70,000 men died as a result of this disobedience.[2]    

As I read the account of the stoning of Stephen[3], I’m sure it was again the result of satan standing up.  Satan, feeling threatened by the wondrous works wrought at the hands of Stephen for his role in building of the Kingdom of God stood to influence certain Jews in the synagogue to conspire against him and ultimately have him killed. 

Satan stood up, but so did Jesus!  He decided to stand toe-to-toe with this notorious Kingdom killer.  But just like in a chess match, sometimes a pawn chooses to be sacrificed for the greater good of the kingdom.  Stephen choose become a martyr for the sake of the gospel which set the stage for Jesus to stand and strike the blow that would knock the devil silly!

In his darkest hour, Stephen was so blessed to witness Jesus stand up from his throne located strategically at the right hand of God.[4]  As He stood, He welcomed Stephen into life everlasting.  But what caused Him to stand?  After all, he had been sitting comfortably at God’s right hand since He had been raised from the dead, not long prior to this occasion.[5]

I can picture Jesus watching broken-hearted as his disciple stood against His antagonists and preached Him crucified.  While His heart ached, I’m sure He was so moved to see one of the first of His followers display a willingness to get to know Him “in the fellowship of His suffering”[6].  But was that enough to cause him to stand?   Could he have stood in grief at the treatment of His Body[7], as Stephen practically echoes the very speech He uttered on the cross?[8]

Courtesy of Diego Grez

This reminds me of my childhood days.  When someone would hear that a sibling was about to be bullied, he would arrive on the scene and stand by, ready to take on the bully himself if necessary.  I’m sure Jesus felt just like that sibling, ready to stand in front of Stephen and conquer that old bully.  While he didn’t stop the fight, He did Stand up!

He knew full well that the ultimate victory over this Disciple killer would require Him to stand up, and go toe-to-toe with this adversary strategically.  That’s exactly what He did.  He stood to receive this sacrifice, and to protect His investment. He stood to protect His Body.   

As Saul, notorious for tormenting Christians,[9] was headed to Damascus to further his crusade, Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks for the great confrontation that led to the great conversion.[10]  Today, 2/3rd of the New Testament was authored by this former Kingdom killer, all because Jesus Stood up.  He stood up, and He showed up!!!

Isn’t it amazing how far the gospel has spread in the last 2000 years?  And thanks to today’s technology, it’s spreading even further throughout the globe.  All because Jesus Stood up. 

When I think of Christians who are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, I can see Jesus standing.  When I think of God’s people dying in natural disasters that seem to be coming in epic proportion, I can see Jesus standing up. 

Conversely, when I reflect on certain tragic and trying events in my own life, and how I was delivered unscathed, I’m convinced that Jesus stood up.  I have some battle scars remaining from some wars I’ve engaged in, yet I’m healed because I know He stood up.  Just as He stood up for Stephen, and just as He stood against Saul, just trust that He’s standing up for you.

Thank You Jesus For Standing!  I thank You because You stood in the gap and wrapped Yourself in flesh to feel my infirmities.[11] I thank You because You stood to hang on the cross to redeem my sins.  I thank You because You stood on my behalf to lead captivity captive and became the great gift giver[12].  I thank You because You stood on the third day as my Resurrected Lord, the head of me, a part of Your glorious Body[13].  Thank You Jesus because when satan stood up, so did You!

 

 REFERENCES:

[1] Revelation 8:1-3

[2] 1 Chronicles 21:14

[3] Acts 6, 7

[4] Acts 7:55

[5] Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 8:1, 12:2

[6] Philippians 3:10

[7] 1 Corinthians 12:27

[8] Acts 7:59, 60; Luke 23:4

[9] Acts 8:1-3

[10] Acts 9:1-20

[11] Hebrews 4:15

[12] Ephesians 4:8

[13] Ephesians 1:22, 5:23, Colossians 1:18

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