Acts 7:54–60 (ESV)
The Stoning of Stephen
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of
God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out
with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And
as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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.
Stephen displays the heart of one touched and changed by Jesus’ love. Normally we do not forgive people until they ask for forgiveness. Here we see
a second type of forgiveness, spoken and requested from God before a person asks for it (v 60). When betrayal, persecution, or abuse breaks your heart, recall Stephen’s words. Pray that the Lord would lead you to this type of forgiveness. Know that the
Lord, who forgave the soldiers who crucified Him, can forgive all your sins. He can likewise heal your wounds of body and soul. So great is His mercy.
I pray: “Jesus,
in Your dying woes, Even while Your lifeblood flows, Craving pardon for Your foes: Hear us, holy Jesus.… Oh, may we, who mercy need, Be like You in heart and deed, When with wrong our spirits bleed: Hear us, holy Jesus.” Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1848.