then they secretly instigated men who said, “we have heard him speak blasphemous words against moses and God.” and they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “this man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that moses delivered to us.” [acts 6:11-14]
in our last passage, we heard about stephen being full of the wisdom of God. he spoke wisdom, and no one could withstand the wisdom. he spoke from God’s word, he spoke from the Spirit, and he spoke out of the grace he had received.
but we know that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man. for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [1 cor 1:18] the world rejects the power of God and refuses the wisdom he proclaims. so they lie and deny. they stir up falsehood to build a following against this man who only wants to give them the truth of God’s love!
this unfair trial is the result of men who don’t want to hear the truth of a Creator who has authority over their lives and has a way to walk that is better than their way. they don’t want to hear that their ways are evil and corrupt and that they are in need of salvation but are unable to obtain it themselves. they don’t want to hear that all they must do is admit their foolishness and trust in the name of Jesus Christ to save them from the wrath of God!
doesn’t this sound familiar? doesn’t the world around us deny these same things every single day? the world of the cross is still folly to those who are perishing. and we hear every lie and excuse and twisting of God’s word so that they might still justify their ways and reject the wisdom of God.
so what do we do?
we pray like Jesus did. in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. [hebrews 5:7] Jesus often prayed to his Father, alone and early, before the sun was up. he prayed for strength, he prayed for perseverance, he prayed for his hearers, he prayed for his followers. we can pray for boldness like the early church, because he longs to give it. we can pray for love, because he longs to give it. and we can pray for softness of hearts, because he longs to give it.
we love like Jesus did. And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [mark 10:21] these are words he spoke to a man who was about to walk away, unwilling to believe that Jesus’ way was better than his own. but Jesus loved him. when we know God’s love for us, it will pour out on the world around us, believer and non believer alike. we will think in love, we will speak in love, and we will act in love.
we speak truth like Jesus did! Jesus answered him, “i have spoken openly to the world. i have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. i have said nothing in secret. [john 18:20] these were Jesus’ words during his trial, before his crucifixion. he was about to die, and was still unashamed of the truth he had preached. Jesus’ love for people included speaking truth to them. he knew, as we now know, that if God is love, then the most loving thing he could give to the world was the Father! his love and mercy, his grace and truth, his glory and his justice. he did not hold back when it was inconvenient, or unbeneficial to him. he didn’t hold back when he was in danger, or when there was opposition. he spoke the truth in love until he died.
we should not be surprised when the world opposes the wisdom of God. the cross is folly to those who are perishing. but we don’t know who is perishing. and so with boldness and love, we proclaim Christ to anyone who has ears to hear. God will do the work! we need only to walk in faith.
~ arwen eastman