How would you like it if someone called you "stiff-necked?" Or referred to you as "you people?" Stephen didn't mince words when he spoke to the Sanhedrin. He is giving them a scolding. In fact, he sounded just like my mother when he said, "You are just like your fathers!" (Acts 7:51). Let's tune in to his speech:
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him -- you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
Stephen has pulled out all the stops in his criticism. He has brought up the covenant with Abraham (uncircumcised), the covenant with Moses (the law and the deliverance from Egypt), and the prophets. He may even have brought up the teaching of Jesus when he said, "You always resist the Holy Spirit" (see Mark 3:29; also see Luke 20:9-19).
The Sanhedrin are angry enough at this tirade when Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, has a vision of an open heaven: "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). It is more than they can bear. In their eyes he has blasphemed. They drag him outside the city gates and stone him without a trial.
For reflection: Have I been stiff-necked? Am I not hearing God? Am I not listening to someone else? Have I criticized my child by saying, "You are just like your father/mother!"?
Let us pray. All-loving Father, I want to be just like you. Help me to hear you when you speak to me directly and when you speak to me through others.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.