Acts 7:59-60 – And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 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.
The death of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr, is an inspiring event. Stephen was brought before the Jewish teachers and asked if he was teaching against God’s law. Stephen began with Abraham, and told the Old Testament story through Solomon’s building of the temple. He showed the Jews that they had not obeyed God’s law, and they had overestimated the meaning of the temple. Stephen then explained to the Jews that they had killed the very messiah they awaited. When the crowds became angry with him, Stephen looked to the heavens, and God opened his eyes to see Jesus standing to receive him. Stephen told the crowds what he saw, and they considered it such a great blasphemy that they rushed him and put him to death.
The verses above are Stephen’s last words. What I find beautiful in them is that Stephen’s words are mirror images of the words of Jesus on the cross. He committed himself to God, and he asked that God forgive those putting him to death just like Jesus did. Without question, Stephen was given supernatural guidance by God to be able to speak like Christ. But with that said, the fact is that Stephen looked like Jesus in his death. He died well.
Our purpose in life is to honor God in every area of life. We are to live for his glory, and we are to die for his glory. The more we know Jesus, the more we are filled with his word, the more our lives and our deaths can mirror our Lord’s. Let us make it a goal that in life and in death, we want to look like Jesus. Let us love and speak truth in our lives. Let us sacrifice our own rights for the benefits of others. Let us point others to the glory of God. And when it comes our time to die, let us continue to mirror Jesus. Let us point people to his death. Let us fully entrust our spirits to him, and seek that his name be honored above all.
Lord, you are the God who created me for yourself. You made me with the purpose of honoring you in all that I do. I pray that I will live to tell others of the glories of Jesus. Let me point others to the truth of the gospel as long as I have breath. Help me to live a life that looks as much like Jesus as it can. I also ask to die well. I ask that, when it comes my time to join you in eternity, I will point people to your glory. Let my death honor you for the sake of your glorious name and kingdom.