Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feast of St. Stephen

Today's readings were 2 Chronicles 24:17-22; Acts 6:8-7:2a, 51-60 (sermon text); and Matthew 23:34-39.

St. Stephen's story reminds us that we are to be martyrs in the church militant until Christ's return. Stephen, with other elders in the early church, was chosen to distribute bread to widows to facilitate apostolic Gospel preaching. In his ministry we see three patterns:
  • Martyred for preaching the Word. Israel was constantly against God and against His prophets. Stoning was supposed to be reserved for blasphemers, but with Stephen it was reversed. Prophets were killed by their hearers.
  • Sermon like Peter's (Acts 2). Stephen preached the Law to show that Jesus is the Christ; he intended to convict the hearers' hearts. You crucified Jesus - but God made Him Lord and Christ.
  • Death like Christ's. The crowd thought it was doing the right thing. Regardless, like Jesus, Stephen forgave his enemies and commended his soul to his Father (notably, to Jesus Himself!).
Preach the Word; point to Jesus; be ready if needed to die for your faith.

Soli Deo gloria.

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