Friday, December 26, 2008

The Fullness of Stephen

A birth one day, a death the next. The day after we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus, we recall the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. Stephen was one of the first deacons, the Seven called to serve tables allowing the apostles to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)

As we read the account of Stephen's service (his ministry), we find that he had a full life. Just consider this:

The qualification for the Seven was 'full of the Spirit and of wisdom' (6:3)

Stephen is described as 'full of faith and the Holy Spirit' (6:5)

Later, he is described as 'full of grace and power' (6:8)

And finally, he is again described as 'full of the Holy Spirit' (7:55)

What a full life, for such a short ministry. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, of which there have been many since. At one level, it was a tragic waste, yet it led to the spreading of the gospel far beyond Jerusalem.

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