Today’s Reading: Acts 6:8-7:2, 51-60
Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 49:22-26; 50:4-51:8, 12-16; Matthew 1:18-25
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 7:60)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A blessed and joy filled Christmas to everyone! The 26th of December gives us a little reprieve during all the Christmas celebrations. The day after Christmas brings us to the first martyr in the Scriptures, Stephen. He is called out for speaking the truth about Jesus Christ and the local church leaders do not like the message he is proclaiming. He is delivering a faithful law and Gospel sermon and the hearers want nothing to do with the message of Jesus Christ. The result? Let’s bring him before the authorities and drum up some bogus charges so that this man will just be quiet about all this nonsense regarding Jesus Christ!
Stephen does not back down. He keeps pressing forward with the message of salvation through Christ. The local leaders have heard enough! Kill him! Even during his stoning, he begs God to not hold this sin against them. In his life and death, he lives in the forgiveness of sins through Christ alone. Each rock pummeling him is yet another opportunity for him to ask God to exact His judgment upon them, but he doesn’t. Instead of vengeance and wrath he seeks God’s forgiveness for them.
In our lives today, we are confronted with the chaos of sin. The same sin that consumed the church leaders of Stephen’s time consumes us too. We want to silence the Gospel. We want to appeal to our own flesh. We want the credit for our achievements, and we certainly desire to participate in our own salvation. God’s law confronts us and exposes our sinfulness. His holy law reveals our unholiness and shows us the need for a savior. The day after Christmas death confronts us in the remembrance of St. Stephen. We are given that example in Stephen that even in the most difficult times of lives the forgiveness of sins prevails. We no longer must carry the burden of our own sin. Our savior Jesus Christ has come into this world to redeem the world. He has come into this world to die for all our sins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Treasury of Daily Prayer, pg 1057)
-Pastor Timothy Paul Davis is Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Athens Georgia.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.