“But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-56 NKJV)!
Stephen represented the essence of a true Christian. He was full of the Holy Ghost, and he mirrored God’s glory in a way that all who saw it were amazed and filled with wonder. His steady gaze was fixed on Christ, and he was wholly occupied with a glorified Savior. Stephen, a charismatic leader of the early church, was a man who boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was unpopular with some of the Jewish authorities, and they accused him of blasphemy. Arrested and hauled before the Council of the Sanhedrin, Stephen still refused to back down, and before long, the crowd became ugly and violent.
Look at the hopeless condition Stephen was in. He was surrounded by religious madness, superstition, prejudice and jealousy. The angry mob pressed in on him, wild-eyed and bloodthirsty, and death by stoning loomed just ahead. What impossible circumstances!
Stephen knew where to look. His gaze turned upward, and he beheld his Lord in glory. Suddenly his rejection here on earth meant nothing to him. Now he was above it all, seeing him who was invisible. The stones and the angry cursing could not harm him because of the joy set before him.
One glimpse of Christ’s glory lifts us above our circumstances and gives us a peace and serenity that nothing else can. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Stephen caught the rays of the Holy Spirit and reflected them to a Christ-rejecting society. We, too, become what we behold. We in the mirror reflect Christ, the object of our affection, and are transformed as we gaze upon him.
When the enemy comes in and troubling circumstances get us down, we need to both amaze and condemn the world around us with our sweet, restful repose in Christ. Since we see by our spiritual mind, this is accomplished by keeping our minds firmly fixed on him.