Monday, March 29, 2010

Closing the Ears

Acts 7:56 And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.

56 καὶ εἶπεν· ἰδοὺ θεωρῶ τοὺς οὐρανοὺς διηνοιγμένους καὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ δεξιῶν ἑστῶτα τοῦ θεοῦ. 57  κράξαντες δὲ φωνῇ μεγάλῃ συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν καὶ ὥρμησαν ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν

This is at the very end of Stephen's speech.  The next verses describe how they took him outside the town and stoned him.  This made Stephen the first recorded martyr of the church.  We are blessed to have his testimony kept for us as part of Scripture.

I find it fascinating that they "stopped their ears" or συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν.  I remember when we had a missionary visit our church in California.  He worked with the Muslim community and he started off in the character of an imam.  We tried to witness to him and used all of our apologetic arguments.  When one of us (I think it was me) said that Jesus was the son of God he covered his ears and began yelling.  Apparently that idea is quite blasphemous to a Muslim.

That experience is what I think of when I picture this scene.  Stephen just laid out a careful synopsis of their history from the time of Moses and how they fell into rampant idolatry.  The Jews didn't want to deal with the truth of this, so they stopped up their ears and eliminated the herald rather than the message itself.  I guess they figured that if they could silence him then they could go back to pretending that he wasn't right.

I see a couple of lessons in this passage for us today.  First, if you are a Christian then it is clear that Stephen's story encourages us to share our faith boldly and accurately.  He knew what was at stake and the likely reaction from the crowd.  Yet he shared anyway.  This was the loving thing to do for his people.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, if you're not a Christian then you need to consider the message of the gospel.  You can stop up your ears all you want, but that will not change the truth of the matter.  If you're in a burning building you can pretend that it is not burning, but you will eventually be consumed in the fire.  You just have to decide if you are going to deal with truth or if you're going to stop up your ears.  My prayer is that you would open up your ears.

1 comment:

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