There’s Another In the Fire: There Is One Who Stands With You

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ birthed in the day of Pentecost as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the thirty-ninth verse of the seventh chapter and continues through to the first verse of the eighth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the seventh chapter of the book of Acts drawing to a close. If and as you read the words which are found within this chapter you will find that it encompasses and entails Stephen standing before the Sanhedrin and before the Hugh priests after being falsely accused by a group of the synagogue called the Libertines. That which we find in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts is not necessarily a defense as we would consider a defense in a trial. Even though Stephen was essentially standing trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin the words which he spoke weren’t in any way to defend himself. Pause for a moment and think about that reality, for when you read the words which Stephen spoke you will not find him seeking to defend himself, nor even profess his innocence in the face of the accusations which were being tailed against him. The words which Stephen spoke in the presence of the high priest and before the Sanhedrin were words which were intended on bringing conviction to their hearts and spirits in light of what he would speak to them. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words we find within this passage it’s that Stephen didn’t count himself as needing to defend himself in the face of the accusations which were being brought against him. In all reality, I would dare say that Stephen did not count his life as even belonging to himself, and therefore, he had absolutely no need to defend himself. Nowhere in the words you find and read in this passage of scripture will you find Stephen speaking unto the high priest and before the Sanhedrin professing his innocence in light of the accusations which were being brought before him. Even though he was completely and utterly innocent concerning the words which were spoken against him he did not in any way, shape or form think to defend himself in the slightest bit. Standing before the high priest, standing before the Sanhedrin and standing before those who would accuse him as Jesus had done, Stephen did not for a single moment think about his own life as being something to hold dear and something needing to be guarded and protected. Within and throughout the entire words which Stephen spoke unto the Sanhedrin and before the high priest you will in no way find him even speaking to—much less acknowledging—the accusations which were brought before and against him. Completely unaware of the fate he would suffer or experience Stephen did not in the least or slightest bit think to defend and mount a defense against the accusations which were spoken against him.

As I stand here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely and wonderfully inspired by Stephens words which he spoke before the Sanhedrin, for if and as you read the words found within this passage you will find Stephen standing accused before the high priest as did Jesus Christ of Nazareth—and evening the apostles whom He left behind when He ascended unto the right hand of the Father. One thing that so utterly and completely fascinates me about the words we find within this passage is not only that Stephen spoke before the Sanhedrin as well as before the high priest, but he also stood before the religious leaders just as Jesus did. Oh when I consider Stephen before the high priest and the Sanhedrin I can’t help but come face to face with the fact that there was Stephen not only standing trial before the high priest and Sanhedrin, but in that moment he was identifying with Jesus the Christ who only a matter of weeks and months earlier had also stood trial before the same group of religious leaders. It’s quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the fact that when Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin he did so in and after the same manner as did Jesus the Christ of Nazareth. I would dare say that in that moment when Stephen stood trial before the Sanhedrin and before the high priest, he was doing more than simply standing trial before the religious leaders and system, but he was also in that moment identifying with Jesus the Christ. If and as you come to the final verses of the chapter you will find that after the Sanhedrin and all Rhode who heard and listened to the words Stephen spoke were enraged with and outraged by the words which came out of his mouth they all seized him and dragged him outside the city. Think about this for a moment, for when you think about Jesus the Christ you will find that after He stood trial before His own people—before the high priest, before the Sanhedrin, and before Pilate and Herod—He would eventually he led outside the city where He would be nailed to a cruel Roman cross before ultimately being hung and crucified upon the cross. I would dare say that just as Stephen stood trial before the religious leaders and system just as Jesus did, so also was he dragged outside the city just as Jesus was. Of course we know that the journey which Jesus took in carrying His cross would begin within the city of Jerusalem, however, that journey would lead Him along the Via Dolorosa, as He was forced to carry His cross to the place of His death and crucifixion. It’s quite interesting and astounding to think about and consider the fact that just as Jesus was brought outside the city by the Romans in order that He might be crucified and put to death, so also was Stephen taken and dragged outside the city in order that he might be stoned to death.

If and as you read the words which are found within this passage of scripture you will find two distinct descriptions which were written concerning Stephen by the beloved physician Luke. Upon reading the words found within this passage you will find it written concerning Stephen—not only that his face was like that of an angel, but also that just before he was stoned to death he looked into the heavens and saw them open. What’s more is that not only did Stephen see the heavens opened and the glory of God, but he also saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. In fact, Luke wrote and recorded how when stolen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father he even spoke of and declared that reality to those who would seek to bring about his death. Oh I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote within this passage of scripture, for the words which he wrote bring us face to face with the awesome and incredibly reality that even in the face of impending death Stephen looked up to the heavens and not only saw them opened, but he also saw Jesus the Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. Before we get back into that which so enraged and infuriated the high priest and Sanhedrin I feel it absolutely necessary and important to take a moment to look at Stephen looking into the heavens and not only seeing them opened, but also seeing Jesus the Christ standing ah the right hand of the Father. This is actually quite unique and remarkable when you think about and consider it, for this is one of—if not the only time in all of scripture where you do not find Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. Everything we read of Jesus the Christ after His ascension unto the heavens and unto the glory He once had with the Father deals exclusively and specifically with His being seated at the right hand of the Father. There is a tremendous amount of language found within the gospels that point to the wonderful and incredible reality that Jesus did in fact sit down at the right hand of the Father after ascending unto heaven. What’s more, is that when Jesus did in fact ascend into the heavens He didn’t just ascend into heaven, but He sat down at the right hand of all peer and all authority. When Jesus ascended unto heaven He did so and sat down at the right hand of all authority and power in the universe, as well as within the realm of time and eternity. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that when we think about Jesus having ascended unto the right hand of the Father, and when we think of Jesus ascending into the heavens we don’t always tend to think about Him as being seated at the right hand of the Father. If you take the time to study the words which are written and recorded within the New Testament writings of the apostles, as well as the words which are found in the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will find it written concerning Jesus the Christ and how He did in fact sit down at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. In fact, the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews contains a great deal and a great amount of language concerning Jesus the Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father. What’s more, is that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father after finishing and completing the work which He was given to do within and upon the earth. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredibly reality, for to do so would be to miss out on they which we find written within the seventh chapter of the book of Acts written by the beloved physician Luke.

The words which we find in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts are absolutely astounding—particularly and especially when you consider them in light of what we know and what we have read concerning Jesus of Nazareth being seated at the right hand of the Father who is in heaven. Oh that we would pay close attention to this reality, for it has the wonderful ability to change and transform how we view what is found within this passage of scripture. What we find and read in the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is actually quite unique and quite astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it, for what we find within its not Jesus who is sitting at the right hand of the Father but a Jesus who is standing. It’s worth noting and considering this absolutely incredible thought and reality, for when you read the words which are found concerning Jesus standing in heaven at the right hand of the Father you find it in stark and complete contrast to that which we find in the rest of the New Testament. In fact, I would dare say that it is quite astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that when Stephen was before those who now didn’t seek to accuse him, those who now didn’t seek to try him, but those who actually sought to stone him, he looked to the heavens, saw them opened and saw Jesus the Christ standing at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven.That which is written and found within the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles is quite remarkable when you think about the fact that when Jesus departed from this earth and returned unto His Father who was in heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father and sat down at the right hand of all glory, all authority and all power. When Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives as His disciples and followers looked upon and watched Him depart, He ascended into heaven in order that He might come unto the right hand of the Father and in order that He might be seated at the right hand of the living God. How absolutely remarkable and wonderful it is to think about and consider the awesome and incredible fact that when you think about and consider Jesus the Christ of Nazareth in heaven He is there in heaven at the right hand of the Father, and is not only at the right hand of the Father, but is also seated there in that place. In that place of all authority and in that place of all power and glory is Jesus the Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father rather than standing. It is quite remarkable to think about and consider this, for it’s almost as if not only did Jesus ascend unto the place of glory and honor which He had with the Father before the world began, but He also returned to that place to sit down at the right hand of the Father. What an absolutely and wonderful picture of rest this truly presents us with when we think about and consider the fact that when Jesus returned unto the Father who was in heaven, He returned to sit down in a place of rest and authority in the presence of the living God and before all the holy angels which surround the throne and day and night cease singing praises unto the living God.

I feel a need to pause for a moment and write concerning Jesus’ being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, for when you think about Him being seated at the right hand of the Father you must think of it—not only in terms of authority, but also in terms of rest. When and as Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven—not only did He sit down in a place of rest after finishing and completing the work which He was given to do, but He also sat down in the place of authority and power. This is quite interesting and astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it, for more often than not there is something to be considered and something to be thought about when you think about authority. More often than not when we think about authority and power we don’t think about it in terms of rest, however, if there is one thing we find when reading the words which are written concerning Jesus the Christ and His being seated at the right hand of the Father, we must understand and come to terms with the incredible fact that in the place of rest there is also the place of authority. Oh I would dare say that more often than not when we think of authority we don’t think about it in terms of it being a place of rest, and yet one thing Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father reveals is that it is in that place of authority where we find and look upon the tremendous reality of rest. OH that we would recognize and understand this incredible reality, and that we would truly begin to comprehend the awesome and wonderful reality that more often than not authority is found in a place of rest in the presence of the living God, and even in the presence of Jesus the Christ and the very Spirit of the living God. More often then not when we think about authority and when we think about power we rarely think about and consider it in light of anything other then rest, and yet I would dare say and suggest that there is a strong and intrinsic link between rest and authority, and how more often than not true authority is and can be found in a place of rest. More often than not when we think about authority we don’t think about it in terms of rest, and yet I would dare say the only way to think about authority—true authority at that—is to think about it in terms of rest, and resting in the presence of the Lord. Oh how absolutely necessary and imperative it is to think about and consider the fact that after Jesus had finished and completed the work which was given Him to do within and upon the earth He not only returned unto the Father, but He also sat down at the right hand of the Father. WHEN THE WORK IS FINISHED THEN COMES THE REST! WHEN THE WORK IS FINISHED THEN COMES TRUE AUTHORITY! WHEN THE WORK IS FINISHED, THEN COMES TRUE AUTHORITY. Oh I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we find written in the second chapter of the New Testament which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi. If you take the time to read and consider the words which are found within this passage you must come face to face with the terms that what the apostle writes within this passage not only deals with authority and honor, but it also deals with work and responsibility. Beginning with the first verse of the second chapter of this epistle I draw and call your attention to the words which are found within this epistle:

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in loneliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputing: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:1-16).

As you read the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will quickly come face to face with the tremendous reality that even though Jesus is now seated in the place of all authority, and even though Jesus is in the place of great authority, great glory, great honor, and great power, it did not come without a wonderful and awesome sense of finishing the work which was assigned and given Him to do. It is true that Jesus the Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and it is true that He is seated at the right hand of all authority, however, we must recognize and understand that this came after He humbled himself, after He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. What’s more, is that not only do we find and read these words concerning Jesus the Christ making Himself of no reputation and being made in the likeness of men, but we also find that He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Oh that we would come face to face with this reality, for when we think about Jesus being in a place of all authority and all power we must think about and understand it in terms of Him having finished and completed the work which was given Him to do. We dare not and must not think about Jesus being found in the place of all authority and all honour without and apart from recognizing and understanding it in terms of His having completely and utterly fulfilled and completed the work which was given Him to do. Oh we dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the incredible importance of the work which Jesus needed to do. It is true that Jesus has been given a name that is above every other name—a name before which every knee will bow, and a name before which every tongue will confess—however, that name is not absent and without the completion and finishing of the work which Jesus was and had been given to do. The words which the apostle Paul writes within this particular passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that even though Jesus has been given a name that is above every other name, and even though the name of Jesus has tremendous honor, authority and power in it—it is only because Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto the point of death. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of language found within the epistle written unto the Hebrews that speaks to the awesome and incredible reality of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father, but only after He had finished and completed the work which He had been given to do of the Father who was in heaven. As early as the first chapter within this particular epistle you will find the author writing unto their audience concerning Jesus being commanded to sit down at the right hand of the Father, and to sit down at the right hand of all glory, honor, power and authority, Consider if you will the words which are not only written and recorded within the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews, but also those words which are found in the eighth chapter, the tenth chapter, and finally the twelfth chapter:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels he saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: where it is is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:1-6).

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body, hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily minister and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 8:1-18).

“Wherefore seeing we also are compasses about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race t hat is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

It is quite clear and quite obvious from these passages that it was after Jesus had finished and completed the work which was given for Him to do that He was then able to be seated at the right hand of all authority and all power. That which we find within these passages brings us face to face that authority and power were manifested after Jesus had finished and completed the work which He had been sent to the earth to complete. Of course we know and understand that Jesus ministered and walked in the authority of the Father, and even in the authority of the Spirit, but there was something to be said about Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and being seated in the place of all authority after He had finished and completed the work which He had been given to fulfill and accomplish. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for to do so would be to miss out and lose sight of the awesome and wonderful reality of authority coming in the place of finishing the work which the Father had given unto us and sent us to do. Jesus humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation, and humbled Himself unto the point of death, and it was in direct response to His obedience and His sacrifice that He was not only seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, but He was also given a name that is above every other name—a name before which every knee would bow, and a name before which every tongue would confess. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider how absolutely wonderful and remarkable this is. What’s more, is that when we come to the seventh chapter of the book of Acts we come face to face with Stephen looking steadfastly into the heavens as he is facing his accusers and those who would stone him to death, and what does he see? As he looks steadfastly into the heavens he sees the heavens opened—and not only does he see the heavens opened, but he also sees Jesus the Christ standing at the right hand of the Father, and at the right hand of all power and authority. Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of this particular reality, for one might ask why Jesus would be standing at the right hand of the Father rather than being seated at the right hand of the Father. If we have countless references to Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven—why would we no read words that present us with the reality that He was standing at the right hand of the Father, and standing in the place of authority and power? It is quite astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that when Stephen looked steadfastly into the heavens—not only did he see them opened, but he did in act see Jesus standing at the right hand of all authority and all power. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider this wonderful and powerful reality, for it is perhaps the only reference in all of Scripture where we find Jesus the Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. The only other reference in all of Scripture where we might encounter Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father is found in the New Testament book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book fo the Revelation of Jesus Christ beginning with the ninth verse:

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit not he Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto THyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven sugars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:9-17).

Later on in one of the letters which was written unto one of the seven churches you will find Jesus actually speaking of Himself as standing in the midst of the golden lamp stands or candlesticks. Outside of what we find and read in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ there are no other references within Scripture to Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. The question we must ask ourselves when reading the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is why would Jesus be standing when Stephen looked up into the heavens. It was true that Stephen looked up to the heavens and saw them opened, and it is also true that when He looked into the heavens He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. There would be those who would argue that Jesus was standing at the right hand of the Father in heaven because He was welcoming Stephen who was about to be the first Christian martyr and first martyr of the early church. While I do believe there might be something to be said of this, I would dare say there is something even more unique and challenging with Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father and Stephen looking up into the heavens and seeing it, and that is simply that Stephen looked and saw Jesus standing in the heavens at the right hand of the Father because in that moment it was as if Jesus who Himself had stood trial before religion and before sinners was standing with Stephen. I would dare say that when Stephen looked unto the heavens and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, he saw Jesus standing because in that moment Jesus was standing with Stephen who would stand in the place of accusation, condemnation and judgment. I would dare say that in that moment Jesus the Christ was choosing to stand with Stephen—perhaps to give Him the strength he needed to be able to remain steadfast before his accusers, or perhaps even simply to show and demonstrate unto Stephen that he was not engaged in this alone. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of a passage which is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel concerning the three Hebrews who were cast into the fiery furnace, and what Nebuchadnezzar and all those together with him saw when they looked into the furnace where the three Hebrews had been cast. Consider if you will that which is written and that which is recorded within this particular passage which is found in the third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel:

“…And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, And Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king as astonied, and rose in haste, and spake unto his counsellers, Did we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered, and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, ye servants of the most high God, Combe fort, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governs, and captains, and the king’s counsellers, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were there coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them” (Daniel 3:23-27).

I would dare say that what we find and what we read in the seventh chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is not merely Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, but Jesus standing with Stephen in the midst of judgment, in the midst of accusation, and in the midst of condemnation. Just as He had stood with these three Hebrews in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, so also would Jesus stand with Stephen in the midst of that trial and in the midst of his accusers. Oh how absolutely wonderful remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that just as the Son of God had stood with the three Hebrews who were cast into the furnace of fire, so also would Jesus stand with Stephen as he was before his accusers and those who would condemn him. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the wonderful and awesome reality of Jesus standing in the place of all authority—and not standing in order that He might deliver Stephen from that which he was facing, but rather to stand with Him in that moment. It is necessary and important for us to think about and consider the fact that Stephen wasn’t there alone before his accusers and those who would condemn him, for there was another who was standing with Him, and another who was standing beside him in that moment. What we must understand, however, is that Jesus wasn’t’ standing in that moment because He was planning to deliver Stephen out of the hands of those who would condemn Him, and those who would stone him to death, but rather to stand with him, and perhaps even to show and demonstrate that he was not alone, and that there was one who was with him in the midst of the trial and trouble—just as He had stood with the three Hebrews in the midst of the fire. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would stand in the place of all authority and all power, and would stand in the place where He could indeed intervene in the midst of that situation, and yet He didn’t stand to intervene and deliver Stephen out of the hands of His accusers, but He stood in order to demonstrate and reveal unto Stephen that he was not alone, and that He was standing in with Him. He was standing with Stephen in order that Stephen might have the strength and the courage to remain steadfast in that place as he would indeed and in fact become the first Christian and the first martyr in all of church history.

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