Stephen was the first martyr of the NT church,of course there had been many martyrs in the OT church.We read of Stephen in Acts7,his death sparked of a great deal of persecution, for the early church,this persecution was laid by a man called who later became a Christian.As to Stephen ,he
was arrested ,and brought before the Jewish authorities,there he preached a wonderful sermon,full of deep spiritual truths,of a people favoured by God,
and yet a people who time after time forsook God, a people who persecuted
the prophets,but it did not stop there,for when the promised Messiah came, they not only rejected Him,they had Him crucified.The more he spoke the more angry they became,It was W.Barclay who wrote, /But Stephen did not see their faces distorted with rage. His gaze had gone beyond time and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God/ when he said that they rushed upon him and took him out and stoned him to death.Those words are a
challenge to all of us who may be enduring persecution,sickness,difficulties,
even death,like Stephen we must with the eyes of faith,look to Jesus. The book of Hebrews was written to people who where struggling with so many trials,so the writer of that great book,exhorts them, to cast of every hindrance,and to look unto Jesus, who endured the cross,despising its shame,because the eternal glories which he would enter into[Hebrews 12 v 1-2],so the question is for all us,where are we looking?.
Dear Lord Jesus we turn our gaze to you this day,to your glory,and the glory
that awaits us, Amen.