Saturday, 21 November 2015

Daily Reading: Acts 12 'Prison Break'

I can't help but wonder how the Apostles felt throughout the events on Acts 8-12.  The initial growth of the gospel in Jerusalem had been explosive, but with persecution the church has been scattered across Judea and Samaria and the gospel growth there has been dramatic.  Now in chapter 12 the focus shifts back to Jerusalem and we see that the Apostles now face persecution, a significant shift from Acts 8.  Now it's not the religious leaders leading the persecution it's Herod, pursuing and persecuting and even execution some of the churches leaders because it wins him favour with the Jews(2).

So Peter finds himself imprisoned and on death row, no doubt knowing exactly what happened to James the brother of John. I wonder what he thought about as he sat in his jail cell.  I wonder if his mind wandered back to his reinstatement by Jesus when he was told that when he was old another would lead him where he did not want to go.  Did he wonder if this was it or if he was secure in trusting he would live?  The key detail we're told is (5) "so Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to Go by the church."  Where is the power in v1-5?  It looks v4 humanly speaking as if it is with Herod; he seized Peter, put him in prison, delivered him, had him guarded by 4 squads of soldiers, he keeps him in prison.  But the power is really seen in verse 5 as the Church approach and pray to God, the almighty, the king of kings, before whom Herod is less that dust on the scales.

We are shown again that though it looks to earthly eyes as if Herod has the power really the church have access to the sovereign ruling mighty God, the one who is all powerful.  It ought to spur me on to pray.  We are, in Jesus invited, to come to God the almighty sovereign ruler of all not as subjects grovelling hoping to persuade him to hear us but as our Father.  We are heard by God because of Jesus, and there we have access to the real power in the universe. 

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