Read: Acts 7:51-60
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. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55, 56 ESV)
Stephen preached the truth of Christ in Jerusalem and was shaking up the status quo. Grace and power followed his message. Lives were being changed. The religious elite were not happy—Jesus was gone but his followers continued to proclaim his life and message. They drug Stephen to court, trumped up false charges, and asked him to defend himself.
Instead of defending himself Stephen preached his final sermon. It was an exegetical masterpiece as he wound his way through the Torah, Prophets, and Psalms to declare Jesus as the promised Messiah. He delivered solid truth, unflinchingly, to a mob eager for blood. And it was more than they could handle.
As he drew near to the end of his message he looked up, perhaps for a measure of reassurance and comfort. The power of the Holy Spirit came upon him and he had a supernatural vision of God and Christ there with him. The declaration of Jesus’ position was more than the ruling authorities could handle.
Not only was Stephen obviously not going to be shut up, but here he was publicly declaring Jesus alive and well. He was stating outright their powerlessness. They were enraged. They attacked and killed him, stoning him to death.
The truth so offended these leaders that they were willing to forsake everything they pretended to serve in order to justify themselves. The truth of Jesus forces a reckoning. Some will accept it, many will reject it. Stephen gazed into Heaven and saw with supernatural eyes the wonders of God. I pray that the truth of Christ would prompt us all to do a little Heaven-gazing.