Stephen’s defense before the Jewish council was amazing in its span and understanding of Jewish history. He offered a condensed version of the Old Testament story starting with Abraham and steadily progressing to the 1st Century time of Jesus. But it wasn’t just a summary. It offered profound spiritual insights on the ancient faith story.
Consider the Moses part of the story. Here, Stephen described not only the facts of Moses’ life, but his motivations. Stephen described Moses as being aware of his God-given calling to be the deliverer of Israel when he was only 40 years old. So, when he fled to Midian after killing the Egyptian, he wasn’t just fleeing Pharoah’s judgment, he was fleeing God’s call.
Stephen’s commentary on the Old Testament helps us understand the storyline from God’s perspective. He establishes the best practice for our reading today. For the best way to understand the Old Testament is through the lens of the New Testament and through the person of Jesus.
Stephen tried to help the Jewish council understand that their history had always pointed to Jesus, that He was the fulfillment of their Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, they would not believe. And they sentenced Stephen to be stoned to death.