August 03, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“The coming of the Just One of Whom
ye have now been the betrayers and murderers.“
Stephen’s sermon was wisely crafted and weighty. More importantly, it was Spirit-breathed and Spirit directed. It found its mark with the same accuracy as the stones they rained down upon him.
His starting point was the grace shown to an idolater, Abram, when the God of glory appeared to him. But the light and goodness of God was soon rejected and Stephen told of their treatment of Joseph He was sold out of envy, the very motive for the Lord Jesus being betrayed. He proceeded to the story of Moses. Here again was a “judge and a ruler” who was rejected by his own nation. Betrayal and rejection had marked the nation from virtually its very birth.
God then proceeded to reveal through Moses that the Lord would raise up a prophet, like Moses, in a future day. But the people were marked by the rejection of God’s counsels and purposes. They made a calf in the wilderness and then turned back in their hearts from following God. Every entreaty from God was spurned; every revelation was refused; and every prophet was rejected.
Stephen finally concludes his powerful message by telling them that they were “stiff-necked” and also “uncircumcised in heart” and were characterized by rejecting and persecuting every messenger God had sent to them. To this they had added the crime of betraying and murdering the Son of God.
Betrayal is one of the most difficult experiences to endure. The Proverb reminds us that “the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov 27:6). David knew betrayal, yet the link of Ahithophel to Bathsheba may have given Ahithophel some inner justification for his act. But David was still devastated by the treachery.
The contrast between Judas and Ahithophel is marked. David was surprised by the betrayal; the Lord knew from the very beginning who would betray Hm. Ahithophel may have had cause over David’s involvement with Bathsheba; Judas had no reason to betray the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus endured the company of Judas, displayed kindness and favor toward him, and provided “bread” for him (John 13:18). He did all this to fulfill one verse of Scripture.
The prophets whom God had sent had been persecuted and slain by the nation. Their track record was one of continual insensitivity and rebellion against light. To their accumulated guilt they had now added the crime of crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ.
The nation, and Judas, were the betrayers of the Just One. But they were also charged with being His murderers. By demanding His death at the hands of the Roman authority, the Lord Jesus was deemed to have been murdered by His own nation.
- Look at John 13:21. Why do you think the Lord was “troubled in spirit” at the time? Look at the previous verse and see if there is a connection.
- Since no man could take life from the Lord, in what sense were they His “murderers?”
- From Acts 7, what other links can you make with Moses and Joseph?