July 16


"They killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52, NKJV).

In his bold defense before the Sanhedrin, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, forcefully denounced the religious leaders for committing the most infamous crime of history--the murder of Jesus, the Just One.

Stephen, the spirit-filled deacon turned evangelist, was prepared to sacrifice himself for his Lord whom he loved and admired as the "Just One." Friend or foe, all who came to know Jesus could come to no other conclusion but that indeed, He was the "Holy One and the Just" (Acts 3:14). Evidently Pilate's wife, disturbed by a dream about Jesus, became so deeply impressed of Jesus' innocent goodness that she bravely urged her vacillating husband to "have nothing to do with that just Man" (Matthew 27:19, NKJV). Pilate himself was convinced of Christ's innocence and tried to free his conscience of "the blood of this just Person" (verse 24). Though condemned as a malefactor, Christ was clearly distinguished from other men as the "Just One."

This title took on special significance to the leaders of the apostolic church. Like Stephen, Peter in his stirring sermon to the people of Israel, charged them with having denied the "Holy One and the Just" (Acts 3:14). Here, Peter uses the double title to aggravate the guilt of those who unjustly killed the prince of life. This title vindicated Christ's innocence before the law (see Matthew 27:19, 24) and highlighted His character as the only one worthy to be called the "Just One." It is this quality that made Him the justifier of all who believe (see Romans 3:26). The "Just One" is a "Just God and a Savior" (Isaiah 45:21, NKJV). By His amazing grace we are justified freely (see Titus 3:7; Romans 3:24).

My Prayer Today: Lord, You alone are worthy to be called the "Just One." By Your grace, make me more like You. Amen.