Our daily reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of the chapters from that day's readings. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.
Acts 7 tells the story of the first martyr. Stephen, whose face 'looked like the face of an angel' when he was brought to trial, gives the Sanhedrin a history lesson, outlining in forensic detail – as a Jew speaking to fellow-Jews – all the ways in which the people of God had fallen short. He concludes by denouncing them personally: in condemning Jesus, they themselves have now 'betrayed and murdered' the Righteous One the prophets foretold (verse 52).
The story echoes that of David after his sin with Bathsheba, when in 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan confronts him face to face. 'You are the man,' he says, as David works himself into a rage about the sins of someone else. Stephen tells the Council that they, not he, are guilty. But unlike David – or those who heard Peter's similar words in Acts 2.37 – they are not driven to repentance but to fury. The sober Sanhedrin turns into a lynch mob and Stephen is murdered.
It's never easy to be accused of doing wrong. We would rather dwell on our virtues than on our vices. But what matters is what happens next. We can blame others and deny reality, or grieve and repent. If our response is anger and rejection, the results can be dreadful.