Atenizo, a Greek word which means to look intently at something (or someone). To stare at, to keep ones eyes fixed on some object continually and intensely.
Stephen’s accusers (Acts 6) had this gaze (verse 15 uses this Greek verb); Stephen had the same gaze (Acts 7). No doubt, Stephen’s intense gaze on the glory of God was what caused the gaze of his accusers.
Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, couldn’t take his eyes off of heaven and the glory of God. That’s why is face was so bright that the Jewish leaders couldn’t take their eyes off of him.
“fasten (one’s) eyes”
“look earnestly on”
“look earnestly upon”
“look up steadfastly”
These are the different ways the Greek word is translated.
Stephen’s example urges me to turn my stare to Jesus, God’s glory, heaven.
Suffering does that to pilgrims. Hard and difficult seasons of life cause pilgrims to readjust their course, their perspective.
One of the lessons that I have been coming back to in this season has been exactly this. I want Jesus to come back. I want his Kingdom to be ushered in. I want the King to return for his bride. I am finding myself looking more for that day. Maranatha!
The early church, living under adverse conditions (persecution and suffering for being Jesus followers), the believers’ morale was lifted by the hope of the coming of the Lord. “Maranatha!” became the common greeting of the oppressed believers, replacing the Jewish greeting shalom (“peace”). The followers of Jesus knew there would be no peace because Jesus had told them so (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51). But they also knew the Lord would be returning to set up His kingdom, and from that truth they drew great comfort. They were constantly reminding and being reminded that the Lord is coming (Luke 21:28; Revelation 22:12).
It’s common in the New Testament for the church and believers to be expecting this day. The coming of King Jesus.
Honestly, until now, I have not always found myself with this kind of expectant gaze.
Maybe it comes from weariness. That could be a danger. I want to guard my heart, because being expectant and waiting with expectation for Jesus to come again could be misused. Do I just want an escape? Do I just want to get rid of my problems? Do I just want the messes of life to be removed so that I can be comfortable and carefree? That would be amiss. I should say, “The Lord is coming”, or “Come, O Lord” because I love Jesus and want so desperately to see him.
Near the end of Revelation, we see the defeat and judgment of sin, Satan, demons, and unrepentant humanity. Jesus is the great Victor, and the various glimpses of God’s throne room describe glorious, unhindered worship of the King of kings in all His splendor. We will enjoy unhindered worship of our great God.
Lord, change my heart. Turn it towards you. Cause me to gaze on your glory and have my eyes fixed on your coming. Not to escape the hear and now, but to be with Christ! I long for heaven to be with you. That’s what I want to say with all my heart. In the presence of the unveiled glory of God without being consumed. Hard to fathom. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Give me Stephen’s gaze!!