Acts 7: 54-60
Stephen, in this passage, has just finished a very articulated pointed expository sermon on the story of God’s salvation from Abraham to Jesus. Many who were present in the crowd did not enjoy or appreciate such a fine expositional sermon. They were so enraged at the sermon they their gritted their teeth and took him and had him stoned to death. There was obviously a courage and boldness that Stephen possessed, but the most intriguing aspect of this passage regarding Stephen’s persecution and martyrdom is the description of Jesus.
Verse 56 states, “And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'” Jesus usually sitting, is standing in Stephen’s description. Off the top of my mind, everywhere else in Scripture that depicts Jesus in heaven, depicts him as being seated. Here, Jesus is standing. Why? In honor of what Stephen has just done and is about to endure for the sake of the name and fame of Christ. Stephen becomes the first martyr of the church. Who does not like applause, standing ovations, recognition?
I have not come across another passage of Scripture where Jesus stands to his feet in honor of one of his followers. As it stands to reason, based upon this passage, the way to bring Jesus to his feet for his children is to give your life for him and his glory.
Thus, the question I pose this morning for myself and every believer who names the name of Christ: “Have we given our life to Christ? Have we surrendered? Have we offered our body as a living sacrifice? Are we willing to give our life for this Christ we confess? If not, we should not expect a standing ovation or applause from Jesus. A life that is sold-out, committed, surrendered, and given for him and his renown is what moves Jesus to stand and applaud one of his followers.
Some people will read this or at some point hear this message and say, “Oh it is not big deal if Jesus doesn’t applaud me. I am saved and that is all that matters.” How is it that we want our boss to notice us, our spouse to notice the good we do, our parents to pat us on the back and say ‘at a boy’, etc. We live in a contestant state of wanting people to acknowledge us, applaud us, and even when we perform, a standing ovation. So for someone to say, “it’s not that big of a deal is Jesus doesn’t applaud me,” is more narcissistic than desiring applause from others. What you have just said is that your boss, your parents, and others are more important than Jesus.
Not desiring Jesus to give approval of what you do, is like comparing Jesus to some nobody whom you could care less if he acknowledged what you do. Jesus demands and deserves the preeminent place in our life. Not that Stephen preached and endured what he did in order to seek the applause of heaven, but he did what he did because he was fixated on Jesus. What he did and endured led Jesus to stand in honor of one of his fallen followers! Today, may Jesus be pleased by the words, mediation, and action of our lives. May he be pleased and give approval to how we live for him today.