Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Miraculous Mission, by way of the Dungeon

Acts 12:1-11 shares the account of what Peter believed would be his final day. Peter must have been certain of His death. He may have had a certain confidence about it... but even though he was convinced of God's faithfulness, he had to have been anxious too.  Who'd blame him?! Herod had just executed James - one of Peter's closest friends and the reaction of the Jews was so great that Herod decided to capitalize on another popularity boost. Knowing something of Peter's personality, he probably prayed and shared The Gospel with his guards, believing that this time would be his last opportunity to preach the Word.

1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him.9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen." 

The rest of the story shares how Peter found himself alone on the city street after the Angel left him.  (Almost as if to say, "Ok you're free, don't just stand there... you've got more work to do!")  So Peter strolls over to a friends house and knocks on the door. (this next part is a riot....)  Peter knocks on the door of the home where all his friends are praying for his release.  When the servant girl answers the door and sees him, then she runs back -leaving Peter still outside the gate - and interrupts the prayer time to tell everyone that their friend is standing at the door - but they don't believe her!  Incensed, they all probably return to their knees to continue with their prayer.  However, they had a very different reaction when moments later, Peter is standing next to the servant girl in their living room.

All his friends were "astonished".  Peter quieted them, and "described how the Lord had brought him out of prison".  When he was done, he asked them to pass his words on to James (1/2 brother of Jesus) and he left... "for another place" and continued another 25 years of incredible ministry!

We have to trust that while we're in the Dungeon, God still has a Miraculous Mission ahead.

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