The Vision: Acts 7:54-56
“54) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55) But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56) and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”” Acts‬ ‭7‬:‭54‬-‭56‬
A stark contrast takes place in these few verses. The Sanhedrin were filled with deadly rage while Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. The flesh and the Spirit are always in opposition to one another. This might be the most pungent fulfillment of James 3:13-18 found in the whole Bible. The response of the religious leaders was earthly, natural and demonic, while Stephen was pure, peaceable and gentle.
But one more thing happens in this text that is worthy of special attention. Stephen, being filled with the Holy Spirit had a heavenly vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “56) and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” With this revelation, they cried out and covered their ears as they rushed on him with deadly rage. Does this sound familiar?
I take you back several months earlier when Jesus was standing before the same religious leaders. In Matthew 26:63-64, the high priest looked at Jesus and said; “I abjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Listen carefully to His response; “64) Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”” With His response, the high priest tore his robes and accused Him of blasphemy. He concluded that Jesus was worthy of death.
We see one notable difference between the statement of Jesus and the revelation of Stephen. Jesus said the high priest would see Him “seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of Heaven.” But Stephen said; “Behold, I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Why the difference in posture between seated and standing?
There may be several insightful answers, but certainly Jesus was not about to take the death of one of His choice servants sitting down! He was standing and at full attention.
But there is a second reason. Revelation 14:14-20 pictures the earth being reaped and the ungodly being thrown into the great wine press of the wrath of God. As you look carefully at verses 14-16, it says three times that one like the son of man was seated on the clouds. This is the way Jesus told the high priest that he would see the Son of Man.
Jesus was standing before the Father as an advocate for Stephen. He will be seated on a cloud as the judge of the ungodly when He returns at His second coming. The high priest and the Sanhedrin are neither judge nor jury, that seat is saved for Jesus Christ.
I believe the Holy Spirit was delivering an important reminder to the Sanhedrin through Stephen with this revelation. The vision punctuated the Deity of Christ! This was the second time they received the same message when putting the innocent on trail. They condemned both Jesus and Stephen to death. But they are facing eternal condemnation before the very Messiah they murdered. He is “seated” in Eternal Judgement Seat.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global