“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 7:59,60
Many folks, including myself, have boldly said: “I want to live like Jesus!”
But how many people want to die like him? I’m betting not many.
Jesus suffered a long, arduous death upon the Hill of the Skull. His crucifixion was horrible. Of course the greatest pain was not the spikes, but rather the sin of all mankind that was upon him. The sinless one became sin so that the unrighteous could become righteous. The price that he paid was a great one, and during the entire ordeal Jesus maintained a Godly dignity. The seven last words of Jesus upon the cross affirm that he died well. He extended forgiveness, grace, care, and compassion while being killed.
Many say they want to live like Jesus but not so many want to die like him. However, Stephen did. Notice that he didn’t die the exact way Jesus died. Jesus was crucified. Stephen was stoned to death. The point is not to mimic Jesus in his type of death but in his tone during death.
Stephen lived as a man full of faith and of the Spirit. Sounds like how Jesus lived.
Stephen died like Jesus as well.
Notice what both Jesus and Stephen said:
“Receive my spirit.” (vs. 59)
“Lord, don’t hold this against them.” (vs. 60)
Both Jesus & Stephen were surrendered to God.
Both Jesus & Stephen were forgiving to those that hurt them.
When we find ourselves pressed like Jesus and Stephen, how do we respond? It’s fairly easy to live in a Godly way when there is little at stake. But what about when we are experiencing death or “death-like” situations? Admittedly, when I am in trouble, angry or frustrated I find it difficult respond like Jesus and Stephen. But isn’t this the real test of our character?
We find out who we are and what is in us when we are squeezed. Thankfully, for most, if not all of us, that squeezing won’t involve stoning or crucifixion.
How do you respond when you’re squeezed? Chime in.