David. The Jews at Pentecost in Jerusalem. The Jews during the trial of Stephen.
What did they share in common?
David had become complacent. “…at the time when kings go forth to battle…David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel (2Sa 11:1).” David stayed home, and one evening he “arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon (2Sa 11:2).”
He sent for the woman named Bathsheba, who was the wife of the valiant soldier, Uriah the Hittite. David seduced the woman. He thought it would be a one-off affair and none would be the wiser. After all, he was the warrior-king. He was the all-conquering hero. He could have anything he wanted.
David probably did not give the affair any further thought until he received a message from her that she was expecting his child. Now things were getting complicated. David had to deal with this discreetly.
He sent for Uriah from the frontline. He tried to persuade him to enjoy the company of his wife but the soldier wouldn’t. Next David tried to intoxicate Uriah but that failed too. It was then David decided to have Uriah murdered.
On the day of Pentecost, Jews from all across the known world gathered in Jerusalem. Fifty days earlier, Jesus of Nazareth was murdered by the chief priests and political leaders, with the consent of the mob who cried ‘Crucify Him (Lu 23:21)!”
At about 9 in the morning, a strange phenomenon took place among the crowd. Twelve Galileans were extolling ‘the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11)’, not in the native Aramaic language, but in the languages of the foreigners.
As some marveled and others mocked, one of the men, Simon Peter, began telling them of the man who was crucified less than two months ago. He proclaimed that this Jesus was in fact both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
Stephen was a man full of faith and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people (Acts 6:8). He was falsely accused by malicious men of blaspheming against Moses and the Law (Acts 6:12-14) and hauled before the Sanhedrin.
Stephen recounted the history of Israel in brief. Upset by his testimony (Acts 7:54) and further provoked by what they deemed to be blasphemy of the worst kind (Acts 7:55-56), the Jews “cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him (Acts 7:57-58).
So what did David, the Jews celebrating Pentecost at Jerusalem and the Jews during the trial of Stephen have in common?
They were confronted for their sins. They were told where they had done wrong. They were urged to repent.
To David, the prophet Nathan said, “Thou art the man (2Sa 12:7)!”
To the Jews at Pentecost, Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36)!”
To the Jews at his trial, Stephen said, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51-52)!”
In this age we live in, it appears that sensitivity to people’s feelings have become more important than speaking the truth. Yes, we ought to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), but let us not misunderstand that to mean watering down or diluting the truth.
We are almost too afraid to hurt one another’s feelings or be charged with being politically incorrect—whatever that means. We are more concerned about ‘saving face’—ours and one another’s.
The Lord taught us in Matthew 18:15-20 that when Christians sin, the brethren must never adopt the attitude of the three monkeys—see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. We must confront the sinning brother or sister.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Gal 6:1-2).”
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20).”
A sinner outside of Christ must be told that unless he/she obeys the gospel, they remain under the wrath of God (Rom 1:18ff) and enemies of God (Rom 5:10). They need to understand that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).
Two out of the three examples we cited above turned to God in repentance. When confronted with sin, will you be more concerned about your ‘face’—that is, pride—than to obey God?
Is your pride worth more than your soul?