Daily Devotional for Saturday September 24, 2005
Why was Jesus Standing - Part I
(Acts 7:54-60, 8:1)
I have always been intrigued by the 55th and 56th verses in the 7th Chapter of Acts that tells about the stoning of Stephen. In those verses, it tells us that Jesus was "standing" at the right hand of God. Not once, but twice for emphasis. The reason these verses have always challenged me is because they are the only verses that say Jesus was "standing." Every other reference to Jesus after His ascension have him SITTING at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, and Ephesians 1:20 all have Jesus "sitting." So I began to ask God why Jesus was standing, and here is what the Holy Spirit showed me.
Jesus was standing to see man's gross wickedness. We live in a time when because of the mass media, we are exposed daily to every kind of sin and evil imaginable. The media feeds us a steady diet of abuse, rape, murder, death, destruction, corruption--nothing is hid from our eyes. Even though we have become immune to all of the evil around us, every now and then, something so wicked happens that we can't believe it.
We can't believe how a Jeffrey Dahmer could do the horrible things he did. We can't believe how someone could kidnap, sexually abuse, and then kill a child. We can't believe how a mother could drown her very own children. We can't believe how a dictator like Kim Il Jung in North Korea could allow millions of people to starve to death while he does nothing to help them. We can't believe how a great nation like the United States could allow the slaughter of millions of innocent babies every year. As much pain and suffering and evil as we are exposed to every day, from time to time we are still horrified by man's gross wickedness.
One reason Jesus was standing was to see the gross wickedness of the religious leaders as they killed an innocent man. Not only had they put Stephen on trial with trumped-up charges, but they committed the ultimate act of killing a man who was guilty of no crime. But never forget my friend, God sees everything we do. He says in His Word, "My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes." God sees all that we do. What men think they do in secret, God is watching.
Jesus stood and watched the religious leaders turn into a pack of wild animals. The Word says they "Gnashed their teeth at him." They were literally biting Stephen. It says, "they covered their ears, yelling at the tops of their voices." It is like a little child who doesn't want to listen to his parents and how he will cover his ears and yell so he can't hear what mom and dad are saying. These religious leaders were under conviction and didn't want to hear the truth. There have been many times over the years when I have been preaching and in the middle of the message have watched people literally get up out of their seats and leave under the conviction of God. I have no doubt many people who read the Daily Devotional delete the message half way through under the conviction of the Holy Sprit.
The Bible tells us that they "dragged him out of the city and began to stone him." For what? What did Stephen do? He boldly defended Jesus! He rebuked the religious leaders for their unbelief. He denounced their fathers for killing the prophets and accused them of killing Christ, the righteous one. Jesus stood and watched as these religious leaders killed an innocent man for telling the truth and defending Him!
A second reason that Jesus was standing was to see who consented to this murder by their silence. James 4:17 tells us, "Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." It is in the anchor verses from Acts 7 that we are first introduced to a young man named Saul. This is the same Saul who would later meet Jesus on the Damascus Road and have his name changed to Paul. This is the same Saul who would live perhaps one of the most powerful Christian lives ever documented. This is the same Saul, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would write nearly half of the New Testament.
Saul's only job was to watch the coats of those who were stoning Stephen. You may say, "well he didn't throw any of the stones." Let me tell you something, he didn't throw any of the stones but he is just as guilty in the eyes of God as those who did. Jesus was standing to see who consented to this brutal murder of an innocent man by their silence. It is no different today. When you are at school or in the office and classmates or co-workers are telling dirty jokes, if you sit and listen you are just as guilty as they are.
When you hear people trashing Jesus, blaspheming the name of God, tearing down the church, if you sit and listen you are just as guilty as they are. When a friend calls you on the phone and starts telling stories about other people and you sit and listen, you are just as guilty as the person who is gossiping. The Bible tells us, "And Saul was there giving approval to his death." Saul's approval was in the form of standing there and doing nothing to stop the killing of an innocent man. God not only sees those who commit the act, but He sees those who watch and do nothing to stop it.
I love you and care about you so much. Know that I am praying for you. Tomorrow, I will share with you the third reason why Jesus was standing and the powerful conclusion to this message. It will challenge you and motivate you in your relationship with Christ, please don't miss it.