I was reading the book of Acts recently. I have read it before, but as I went along and read about the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, I noticed a detail that had escaped me before…
“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
These were the words of Stephen as the religious leaders and mob around him had begun to hurl stones at him in order to kill him for the “blasphemous” words he had spoken. And just between you and me, it wasn’t blasphemous. It was true. But as it turns out, they couldn’t handle the truth.
But do you see it? Did it jump out at you like it did at me?
“I see…the Son of Man standing…”
Hold on just one ever-lovin’ minute here. Jesus is standing.
So what? Who cares?
We learn from Hebrews 1:3 and other references that once Jesus finished His redemptive work on earth He sat down at the right hand of God. Jesus SAT down.
As in, “have a seat.” As in “job well done.” As in “mission accomplished.” As in “take a load off.” Jesus sat down because quite frankly, He earned it. He was seated comfortably on His throne.
So why would Stephen see Jesus standing? What would cause Jesus to stand up?
File this under “partially substantiated speculation”, but let me share a couple thoughts.
What if Jesus stood knowing Stephen were only moments away from entering his eternal rest; entering Jesus’ very presence? What if Jesus were standing in preparation to “receive” Stephen home with a warm embrace, knowing Stephen were just barely on the other side of the threshold of heaven? Cool thought, right?
But the explanation I like even more is that Jesus’ response to the stoning of Stephen was so strong, so pure, so powerful that He literally had to rise from his throne. Akin to a standing ovation or the type of response that communicates an incredible amount of attention, esteem, and appreciation. Can you imagine living (or dying) in such a way that Jesus rises to His feet to show His approval and love?
Again, this is speculation but I don’t think its without scriptural backing. In the book of Revelation, we see a very tender exchange between Jesus the Lamb and those who had been martyred for their testimony. He seems to have a soft spot in His heart for those who lay down their life for Him. After all, its what He did for them. And you. And me.
Whether a standing Jesus is reserved only for those who lay down their pulse for the gospel, or if we can stir the attention of the Savior by the way we live our daily surrendered lives, it challenges me to love him so fully and serve others so willingly and be prepared to sacrifice so unreservedly that our Savior takes notice.