Mark 16:19  So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

We speak these words  every Sunday when we recite the creed.  It is called Christ’s secession at the right hand of the Father where he rules all things for the church.  The anointed Prophet, Priest, and King fulfills these offices even today.  As Prophet He continues to proclaim the Gospel as He rules the Church as its head.  As Priest He intercedes for us and as our King He rules all things for the church as He sits at the place of power in Heaven.  All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him because of His redemption of the world through His blood.

It is our task to witness to Him in Word and deed.  Our churches emphasis on “Witness, Mercy and Life Together” brings this idea to light and we seek to honor Christ by a proper witness and confession as well as deeds of love and mercy for the neighbor.  Martyria means witness or confession and the first martyrs witnessed to Christ by their death.

Stephen was a martyr.  Because of his witness he was stoned to death and therein lies as they say, a tale.  When Stephen made his testimony and confession and witness we read this in Acts 7 – When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

There is a wonderful old book (written 2 years after I was born) called “The Theology of Evangelism” by T.A. Kantonen.  In it he says that the early church took this to nean that Jesus is so concerned about this faithful witness that in anxiety he stood up.  That is God’s glory.  That he is still concerned about His witnesses and their witness.  That is our joy and strength.

stoning stephen _Rubens_RUP060

Rubens Altarpiece on Stoning of Stephen