But, Filled With the Holy Spirit
But, filled with the Holy Spirit... Jesus had told his followers that the Spirit would breathe the words they needed upon their crosses. So, through Stephen, the Spirit spoke of the Father and the Son to those who were killing him.
But, they covered their ears.
But, they shouted to drown out the voice.
But, they rushed to get it over with; before anyone could change their minds.
There is no one as a deaf as one who will not listen. And yet, the Spirit spoke. The Spirit can be ignored with effort, but it can not be silenced.
As Stephen was being stoned, Saul (who will be Paul) was watching over people's clothes. In the past, I read it as though those who were throwing the stones were shucking their clothes so they could throw harder; but I noticed this time that it was the "witnesses" who laid their garments before him. I don't know what difference it makes. I don't know what it means that he watched the stuff for the watchers. I envision a party atmosphere like a hanging in the old west, or a lynching in the south; or was it more of an Orwellian Two Minutes Hate - public venting and conformity?
Luke tells us that Stephen died in the manner of Jesus; just as he had briefly lived like Jesus. Stephen: "Lord Jesus, accept my life." (v. 59 CEB). Jesus: "Father, into your hands I entrust my life." (Luke 23:46 CEB)
Jesus had made another promise to his followers, that they would do "greater" things. Again, Luke seems to be intentionally comparing deaths. Jesus: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 CEB) Stephen: "Lord, don't hold this sin against them!" (v. 60 CEB) Stephen leaves out the conditional "for they".
When the Spirit was done breathing Truth in grace and mercy, breathing life into a moment of death, Stephen died.
(photography by tiwago)