Herod, Peter and God’s Will

 

Acts 12:1-19

Luke shifts scenes, this time we see Herod and his nefarious doings. He arrested some of the believers in Jerusalem to persecute them, and in the process James was murdered. With this act, Herod noticed his approval rating soaring among influential Jews, so he decided to kill Peter too; he was arrested and thrown into prison until Passover was over with, then he would face a show trial on trumped up charges and be killed, to the delight of the crowds.

It would seem that old Herod hadn’t cleared his devilish little plan with God, who had other ideas…

Luke goes to great pains to establish that Peter was very well guarded in the prison, since Herod was taking no chances, but in spite of that, Peter would escape. While Peter was sleeping soundly, chained up between two guards, an angel woke him up, told him to get dressed, he was sleeping naked after all, and then they walked right past the guards and out of prison, and all the while, Peter thought he was dreaming. After a block or so, the angel left him and Peter realized this was no dream; he had been sprung from the big house.

He went to the home of Mary and her son Mark, yes, that Mark. He knocks at the door and a servant girl answers, recognizes Peter, and is so overjoyed that she forgets to let him in! I don’t know about you, but I think this is hilarious… Those inside the house who were praying fervently for Peter didn’t believe the girl, and Peter is still outside banging on the door until someone finally lets him in: Amazing, not to mention comical, but then how often do we expect the miracle we are praying for?

When Peter finally gets into the house, the people are so excited he has to tell them to be quiet before he can tell them what happened, and when he finishes, he asks them to get word to the others, and departs for an undisclosed location.

The next morning, those poor guards must face the wrath of Herod who is pretty much looking like a fool; he has them all killed.

For me, this story brings into sharp focus something that we sometimes forget in the day-to-day of this life, and that is that God and the gospel, are on the offensive in the spiritual battle we live in; not the other way around. Thus, Satan and his minions are playing defense, and despite all appearances, their position is desperate and hopeless; they are trying to hang on. Does anybody really think that Satan can go toe-to-toe with God and have any chance of success?

Well… he can’t.

His tactics are indirect, playing our weakness and frailty against us, but understanding this, we can take heart, for when we are weak, God is strong. From our point of view, and that of the people in Mary’s house that night, Peter’s jail break was an astonishing and almost unbelievable miracle, but from God’s point of view, it was just another day at the office; no biggie. After all, Peter still had work to do, so let’s get on with it.

Isn’t this a cool story?

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