Summary: The Sanhedrin’s reaction to the Gospel is pretty typical for those who reject it, but the boldness displayed by Stephen is something WE must learn from!
The Death of a Deacon
- Stephen (the first deacon) has been seized by the Sanhedrin
- He is brought before them to answer the charges of blasphemy (no proof needed)
- The Council of the Sanhedrin ultimately were condemning themselves when they condemned Stephen. Why? Because they rejected what he preached: JESUS!
- I have three points today and my first two points ARE the introduction (smile)
-- So, let’s just dive in and I want to ask you … hold on … this is an amazing text
Point 1 – History is Important! (1-50)
- Read Acts 7:1-3
- v1 – Stephen is asked point blank, “Are these charges true?”
-- Has a chance to save his neck; to lie; to weasel out; to say anything he wants
-- Instead what does he do? He starts to remind them of who they are to God
-- He walks them through their own heritage; much to their shock I’m sure
- v2 – He recalls for them the promises to Abram (who later becomes Abraham)
-- What were these promises? Go to and read Genesis 12:1-3
- Thing for us to see: We must be willing to recognizing God’s voice!
-- Notice that the first thing we see is that God spoke, and Abram heard
-- This is a unique position that we see in the life of Abram; already following God
-- And so, when God spoke; there was an immediate recognition by Abram
-- Challenge: Can you and I say the same? Do we hear/recognize God’s voice?
- What Abram hears though is more than a text message type of translation
- Abram gets the full script and promise of his life revealed to him in 2 sentences
- (v2-3) “I” will do these things; the great “I AM” is responsible and in charge
- The promise here is God saying, “I am in charge, and I will take care of you”
- Stephen then gives them an all-out assault on the senses of THEIR history
-- He not only recounts Abraham, but Moses’ calling and his obedience to God
- Then, in v39 Stephen does some just amazing … (read v39)
-- APP: He shows them exactly where we have failed as a people
- Ancestors refused to obey
-- They rejected Moses’ leadership
-- They asked Moses’ son, Aaron, to build them an idol to worship
-- They had the tabernacle, they had God’s provisions, and still they disobeyed
-- Stephen shows them their failures with Joshua and the disobedience to God
- I would say, when all was said and done – these people were fuming with anger
- TRANS: But wait – there is EVEN MORE that Stephen does!
-- Stephen then displays the most critical piece of his testimony … HONESTY!
-- He unleashes on them the comparison of who they are EXACTLY like!
Point 2 – Serving God takes Bravery (51-53)
- Read Acts 7:51-53
- Not only are you people stiff-necked (means: haughty; stubborn) …
-- You are just as big as sinners as your ancestors were
-- This is why you have no power; this is why you are weak
-- This is why your testimony is foolish and why no one listens to you!!!
- You are ones who do nothing but deny the power of the Holy Spirit
- Paul captures this in his letter to Timothy quite clearly (DEF applies today)
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
- You people (the Sanhedrin) have persecuted everyone God has sent
- You have no idea what you are doing and NOW … NOW you’ve killed Him!
- The very Son of God sent to redeem you – you denied and cursed him
- How was Jesus cursed?
-- (This is the Law) Deuteronomy 21:23, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that your land be not defiled, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.”
-- (This is the Prophecy) Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
- You heard the Law and rejected it; then you heard the Messiah and killed Him