They came to the house and went up stairs to the room where a feast was being laid out for them. The men sat down heavily, tired from walking in the heat. Jesus saw a boy standing in the corner of the room, waiting to wait on them. He was young, full of life, and about to be old enough to be considered a man. Jesus went over to him. He went down on one knee so that He could look straight into the boy’s precious face. He quirked an eyebrow and smiled ever so slightly.
“Does your father know you’re up here?” Jesus asked with a mischievous tone. The boy’s countenance fell at being found out. He dropped his gaze.
“Some of my father’s servants are the same age as I am. I thought I could pretend to be one and be able to see You, Lord.”
Jesus smiled all the more. “And where are your father’s servants?”
“I told them to leave the house for a few hours and that I would serve you and your men,” the boy answered, still with his eyes downcast.
“Why do you want to serve Me?”
The boy raised his head cautiously and found the courage to meet Jesus’ eyes. “Because You are the Messiah,” he said quietly but boldly.
Jesus nodded, proud – not of His name – but of the boy’s faith. He wished His disciples would stop talking about meaningless drivel and learn from this youth.
“What is your name, brave one?”
“Stephen. Do You really think I am brave, Lord?” the boy asked with all the hope in the world waiting on Jesus’ verdict.
“Oh, yes,” Jesus answered strongly, holding Stephen by the arms. “You are brave, you are wise, and most of all, Stephen,” Jesus touched one finger to the boy’s chest, “You have a heart that longs to serve.”
Stephen’s young heart soared with pride and joy. The Messiah had said his name! The Messiah had called him brave! His friends could call him a coward but he would not listen to them anymore because if the Messiah had called him brave, he was brave.
“I can serve You, then?” Stephen asked, elated.
Jesus kissed his forehead. “Tonight I must do the serving because tonight is My last night with My brothers, My last night with My enemy.” Jesus saw Stephen’s face fall again. “But one day, Stephen,” Jesus lifted his head to look in his eyes, “You will serve Me in a great way. On that day, remember what I told you. Stephen, you are brave. And I will see you soon.” Jesus winked at the boy and sent him on his way.