Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story is about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to serve as leaders in the early church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 6:1-7.) God blessed Stephen, and God gave him power to do wonders and miracles like some of the apostles.
Some of the Jews accused Stephen of blasphemy and dragged him to the Sanhedrin, a group of Jewish leaders that acted as a legal council. Stephen addressed the group. He drew from the Old Testament, which the leaders in the Sanhedrin would have known well. He reminded them of Abraham’s faith in God and of Joseph’s plight in Egypt. He talked about Moses and the Israelites who rejected God’s plan. But God did not give up on them.
Stephen also showed how the Old Testament pointed to a coming Savior and how that Savior was Jesus. Stephen pointed out that the Jews’ ancestors had rejected God’s prophets. And they were just like their fathers; they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Not only did they reject Jesus, they killed Him!
The Jewish leaders rushed at Stephen. The Holy Spirit filled Stephen, and he looked into heaven. He saw God’s glory, and Jesus was standing at God’s right hand. The Jews forced Stephen out of the city, and they stoned him. As he died, Stephen called out, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!”
Stephen was killed because he was a Christian. Jesus told His followers that they would be persecuted—hated, hurt, or even killed—for loving Him. (Mark 13:9-13; John 16:2) Jesus also said that those who suffer for Him would be blessed. (Matthew 5:11) Stephen was not afraid to die because he saw Jesus waiting for him in heaven. We can face suffering in this life because we know great joy is waiting for us in heaven.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next three weeks, kids will be learning about the early church. After the Holy Spirit came and the disciples began preaching the gospel, more and more people believed in Jesus. They met together and shared what they had like one big family. God blessed them, and the church grew. (See Acts 2.)
Peter and John were among Jesus’ first disciples. They were fishermen, and when Jesus called them, Peter and John immediately left their work and followed Him. (Matt. 4:18-22) Peter and John still followed Christ after His ascension. Though Jesus was no longer with them physically, the Holy Spirit empowered them to do God’s work.
One day, Peter and John encountered a man at the temple gate. The man was lame from birth, and he depended on the generosity of passersby. When the man looked at Peter and John, he likely hoped for or expected money. Gold or silver would have provided food or clothing, but Peter gave him something even more valuable. “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) Peter reached out and helped the man to his feet. He was healed! Not by Peter’s power, but by the power of Jesus working through him.
After Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples power to keep working. Peter healed a man who was lame with the power of Jesus’ name. God was working in the early church. They lived very differently from the people around them. God gives the Holy Spirit to believers today so the church can tell others about Jesus and show them His love.
The Gospel Project for Kids