Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Acts, Chapter 12

The book of Acts is such a wonderful book because of the dramatic ways that Christ continued to push the early church. There is little doubt that the early church would not have succeeded if not for the dramatic, divine intervention of Christ and His angels. Already we have seen the Holy Spirit come upon thousands, a prison break, selfish people being struck dead for holding back from God, the first martyr for the cause, a miraculous conversion of one of the church's most virulent haters, and miraculous visions. Through all this the church continued to grow in the face of great persecution. Whatever man threw at the church God overcame. All of this was caused by the relatively simple message that Christ died for the sins of the world, and if we believe in Him and the resurrection, asking for forgiveness, we are forgiven of our sins and will have eternal life.

When you think of it in those terms it is so simple, yet also kind of wacky. It really is a leap of faith, and rationally sounds like a fairy tale. If it were merely a fairy tale would it have lasted through 20 centuries and been the most influential "myth" in history though? Part of the reason it lasted was because of the work of Peter, whom in chapter 12 is once again delivered supernaturally. It seems like this is old hat for him, as early on we see another martyr to the cause with James' execution and we also find Peter back in prison for preaching the gospel.

6The 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. 7Suddenly 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. 8Then 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. 9Peter 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. – Acts 12:6-9

Sixteen soldiers were guarding him and he just walked out of prison like he owned the place. The amazing thing is that this was just a minor use of God's power. Peter himself was unaware it was actually happening until the angel left him outside of the prison. This is the same Peter who once denied Christ three times in one night, yet now has little reason to ever be stopped by the ways of man. When you take this small miracle into account, is there any wonder why the attempts to stomp out the early church failed?

13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" 15"You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." 16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place. – Acts 12:13-17

This is another small incident, but it illustrates the power of unbelief. The church had been praying for Peter to be delivered, yet when he actually was returned to them they thought it was just his angel. They couldn't believe that it had actually happened even though someone was standing there telling them Peter was at the front door. This is an obvious reference to Revelation 3:20, where Jesus says that he knocks on everyone's door, and anyone who answers the door he will come in and eat with them. Much like Peter knocking on the door of the disciples, Christ knocks on the door to everyone's heart. It is up to us to answer the door and believe in Him, or to simply say that no one is really there. Also much like Peter, He will continue to knock instead of going away.


  1. Is the story of Christ real to you, or merely a fairy tale to believe in?
  2. Why would God choose to supernaturally deliver Peter from persecution, yet allow James to be martyred?
  3. How do you/did you feel Christ first knocking on the door to your heart?

No comments: