His disciples are dispersed. He gave them the legacy of pain ere He Himself was put to death. They are hunted like the deer, and the foxes of the fields, and the quiver of the hunter is yet full of arrows.
But when they are caught and led to death, they are joyous, and their faces shine like the face of the bridegroom at the wedding-feast. For He gave them also the legacy of joy.
I had a friend from the North Country, and his name was Stephen; and because he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, he was led to the market-place and stoned.
And when Stephen fell to earth he outstretched his arms as if he would die as his Master had died. His arms were spread like wings ready for flight. And when the last gleam of light was fading in his eyes, with my own eyes I saw a smile upon his lips. It was a smile like the breath that comes before the end of winter for a pledge and a promise of spring.
How shall I describe it?
It seemed that Stephen was saying, "If I should go to another world, and other men should lead me to another market-place to stone me, even then I would proclaim Him for the truth which was in Him, and for that same truth which is in me now."
And I noticed that there was a man standing near, and looking with pleasure upon the stoning of Stephen.
His name is Saul of Tarsus, and it was he who had yielded Stephen to the priests and the Romans and the crowd, for stoning.
Saul was bald of head and short of stature. His shoulders were crooked and his features ill-sorted; and I liked him not.
I have been told that he is now preaching Jesus from the house tops. It is hard to believe.
But the grave halts not Jesus' walking to the enemies' camp to tame and take captive those who had opposed Him.
Still I do not like that man of Tarsus, though I have been told that after Stephen's death he was tamed and conquered on the road to Damascus. But his head is too large for his heart to be that of a true disciple.
And yet perhaps I am mistaken. I am often mistaken.