8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen.
10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.
14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.’
(Acts 6 v. 8 – 15)
We’ve only just been introduced to Stephen at the beginning of this chapter (yesterday’s reading / blog), and he has already attracted such strong opposition from the religious leaders. His ministry, from the start, was one of ‘awe and wonder’, signs and miracles, and an impressive person with great character – ‘a man full of God’s grace and power’.
There’s a stirring up amongst the people, led, secretly, by a certain group, and the raising up of false witnesses (fake news?), to twist Stephen’s words and malign him before the Sanhedrin (ruling Jewish council).
All eyes are on Stephen – this is a very dangerous, threatening situation. Rather than looking scared and vulnerable – Stephen has the appearance of an angel. Perhaps Stephen’s face shines, just as Moses’ face had shone when he’d been in the presence of the Almighty.
‘As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here, may our lives tell Your story
Shine on me – shine on me.’ (lyrics by Graham Kendrick, ‘Shine, Jesus Shine’)
May the Lord bless us and keep us –
may the Lord make His face to shine upon us
and be gracious to us.
Now and always,