In the end of Acts 6 and all of Acts 7, we find the account of Stephen. He is first introduced as one of the seven who serve the needs of the church, but it is very clear that he took the command to be a witness to heart. When he is questioned by the high priest about the charge of blasphemy against him, Stephen answers by telling the gospel. He does not begin with the manger in Bethlehem. He does not start by telling them about how the Spirit descended like a dove at the baptism of Jesus. He does not introduce his story with the first miracle, the last supper, the crucifixion or the resurrection. Stephen begins by talking about Abraham. Why Abraham?
There is the initial answer that since he is defending himself before a Jewish high priest, Abraham would be an obvious, familiar point of connection. I believe there is more to it than that. As we read stories in the Old Testament that remind us of our childhood Bible classes or Vacation Bible School, we sometimes lose sight of the connectedness of each person in scripture. They all play a part in the story that God had in mind before time began. The first chapter of Matthew serves in part to bridge those Old Testament stories and the arrival of Jesus. Stephen reminds his accusers (and us) of that storyline in Acts 7. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David were all part of the story that would lead to the Messiah. Stephen’s accusers had missed the climax of the story because they were too caught up in the history that led to it. Stephen understood that it all fit together.
The true beauty of God’s story is that it is ongoing. Because of His great love, He invites us to be part of that story. The church today continues to give the same witness that Stephen did in Acts 7. We know the good news that not only did Jesus come to earth in the beginning of the gospels. It was the Father’s plan all along that He would come so that we could be with Him. Each of the people Stephen mentions are part of that plan. Although the Bible is a collection of many stories, the amazing story of God and His love for His people is woven through all of those individual stories.
Let’s not forget as we look at those old, familiar stories that they were all part of God’s great plan to draw His people back to Him. It is a desire important enough for Him to send His son for us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. – Romans 5:6

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