Initial Observations (1st read)
Key figures – King Herod, James, Peter, angel of the Lord
Minor figures – soldiers/guards, servant Rhoda, Mary, John, also called Mark, Barnabus, Saul
· King Herod arrests some believers with the intent to persecute them
· He then kills James, brother of John (and son of Zebedee), by sword which gives hi political approval with the Jews
· As a result he arrests Peter yet decides to give him a public trial after the Passover
· Peter is guarded by 16 soldiers
· Luke contrasts Herod putting Peter in prison BUT the church was earnestly praying
· An angel of the Lord comes to Peter, wakes him up and gives him orders
· Peter obeys the angels but thinks he’s just seeing a vision
· The angel escorts Peter out of prison and once they’re a block away he leaves Peter
· Peter suddenly comes to his senses that he’s been awake the whole time and he’s free
· Peter goes to the house of Mary, mother of John, also called Mark where the church had gathered to pray
· Peter knocks at the doors and speaks but Mary’s servant Rhoda does not open the door in her excitement but tells the believers that Peter’s at the door
· The praying believers do not believer Rhoda and say that she’s out of her mind or that it must be Peter’s angel.
· Peter keeps knocking and they finally open the door
· Peter tells them to tell James and the rest of the church and then he goes somewhere else
· In the morning there’s a huge commotion and Herod orders a thorough search be made for Peter and when they do not find him he has the guards executed
· King Herod then goes to Caesarea for political purposes
· “on the appointed day,” Herod’s decked out in his royal robes and addresses the people while sitting on his throne.
· The people respond by shouting “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.”
· “Immediately” an angel of the Lord strikes down Herod because he did not give praise to God
· BUT the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
· Barnabus and Saul finished their mission trip in Acts 11 and return to Antioch with John, also called Mark
· The church is now being persecuted not just by religious leaders (Acts 4-9) but by the State—Israel’s political leader, King Herod
· James is martyred—the first of the apostles to be killed
· Things go from bad to worse as Peter’s arrested and now in prison… this is the low point…
· BUT (Luke emphasizes to Theophilus) the church was earnestly praying
· The result – Peter escapes and Herod not only loses Peter but loses his life
· BUT amidst political persecution from the State the word of God continues to spread and flourish
· Whatever challenge may come our way our response should be earnest prayer with others
· Expect God to do above and beyond all what we can think or imagine. Peter’s initial response to being broken out of jail was “I must be seeing a vision.” The believers’ response to Peter showing up at their door was disbelief. I too have blinders to God’s providential work all around me.
· When praise comes my way, am I quick to give God the praise and credit?
Holy Father, thank you for the gift of prayer and the opportunity to gather in earnest prayer with others. I think back to the amazing miracles I’ve seen you do within days of earnest prayer out of our desperation. I confess my amnesia of such occurrences today and ask that your Spirit would call us to earnest and fervent prayer today. Father, may we pray this way during tough times as well as when we are not facing persecuting or the loss of loves ones, jobs, etc.. Father, give us a sense of urgency to pray and expect that the word of God would continue to spread and flourish through us as it did your church through the Book of Acts. Father, as churches around the Bay Area have started our Seek God for the City Campaign, ignite us and unite us in corporate dependence on you through prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ we ask… amen.
Posted on Thu, February 19, 2015
by Rob Schultz