“Word for Today” – Acts 6 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 28, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Apple Tree 1“Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8).  Such is a prayer of David and a promise of God.  We, as the crown of God’s creation and the redeemed of God’s Son, are the apple of God’s eye.  Not to give the same weight to a secular proverb as to a Scriptural promise, but an old saying here intersects with this Scriptural axiom:  “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”

The origin of this saying is uncertain, although some ascribe it to the famed fourth century BC physician, and the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates.  Whatever its origins, this proverb is an apt affirmation that certain traits and habits have a proclivity to be passed on from one generation to the next.  To put it another way, “Like father, like son.”

As Jesus’ redeemed, we are called his “children” (cf. 1 John 3:1).  And, as Jesus’ children, the proverb, “the apple does not far fall from the tree,” would seem to apply.  Indeed, as Jesus himself says, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).  What happens to Jesus, even that which is harsh and harrying, will also happen to us as his children.  For the apple does not fall far from the tree.

In our reading for today, we see one such an example of the life of one of Jesus’ children echoing the life of Christ himself.  Acts 6 recounts the life – and, sadly, the death – of the first Christian martyr Stephen.  The parallels between Jesus’ life and Stephen’s are legion.  Consider these:

  • Stephen angers sinful religious leaders who, try as they might, “can not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke” (verse 10).  Jesus also angers sinful religious leaders who, try as they might, “can not say a word in reply” to Jesus (Matthew 22:46).

  • Stephen is persecuted by these same religious leaders who “stir up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law” (verse 12).  Jesus is also persecuted by these religious leaders who “stir up the crowd” (Mark 15:11).

  • Stephen is tried on trumped up charges, brought by “false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law’” (verse 13).  Jesus too is tried on trumped up charges, also brought by “false witnesses…who declared, ‘This fellow said:  I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days’” (Matthew 26:59-60).

The apple does not fall far from the tree.  Jesus was persecuted and finally killed.  And so Stephen too was persecuted and finally martyred.

As it was with Jesus, so it was with Stephen.  And as it was with Stephen, so it is with us.  Although we may not be martyred for our faith, we are sure to endure hardship and persecution.  In fact, I received an email from a dear congregational member just this past week, seeking some assistance because an atheist friend of his was viciously attacking his faith.  Such trials are sure to come.  For the apple does not fall far from the tree.

As many hardships as we may have to endure as God’s “apples,” we can be assured of this:  We will also enjoy God’s successes and blessings.  After all, for all the persecution that Jesus had to endure, those who opposed him could not stop him.  And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Those who oppose us won’t be able to stop us either.  Indeed, in spite of Stephen’s martyrdom, Acts reminds us, “The Word of God spread” (verse 7).  Try as it might, this world’s rage cannot stop the gospel’s spread.  For the Gospel is spread by us.  And no one – no power or principality, no angel or demon – can thwart us apples of God’s eye, for us apples never fall far from God’s tree.  And God can never be stopped!  And that means, neither can we.  So today, march forth boldly with God’s gospel.  For the more people who hear and believe the gospel, the more apples are added to God’s tree.  And what a marvelous tree it is.  I’m proud to be a part.  I hope you are too.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 7 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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