Jesus’ Life: Chapter 20 – Early Spread Of Gospel By the Disciples
Following the beheading of James, Herod Agrippa, wishing to ingratiate himself further in the eyes of the Jews, had Peter arrested but postponed his trial and intended execution until after the Passover festival.
Peter was guarded 24hrs by a team of 16 soldiers who were organised into four teams of four soldiers each. Normal procedure was to chain the prisoner to two of the soldiers while the other two stood guard at the locked dungeon gates.
Peter’s family, friends and disciples were distraught at his arrest and expected his imminent death; James’ beheading confirmed their view that Herod Agrippa fully intended to do likewise with Peter. However, they didn’t give up hope, they quietly met in small groups in each other’s homes throughout the Passover festival and prayed unceasingly for his safe release.
The night before Herod’s planned execution, an Angel of the Lord appeared in Peter’s prison cell and a light shone all around. Peter was asleep, as were the two chained guards. The Angel struck Peter on his side to awaken him and, as the chains fell from his wrist, the Angel said, “Get up quickly! Fasten your belt and put on your sandals… and cloak and follow me”. (Acts 12:8)
Peter did as he was instructed but he thought he was experiencing a vision as everything that was happening felt unreal! The Angel led him past the guards, through locked gates that opened as they approached and into a narrow street outside the city. The Angel then departed and Peter, gathering his senses, realised that he had been freed from prison, it wasn’t a dream!
Peter quickly went to the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. Her home was filled with many people praying for his safety. At first, they thought a slave girl, Rhoda, who saw him at the door and told them Peter was standing outside, was mistaken but soon, upon hearing his voice and seeing him in person, they were astonished. Peter explained to them how the Lord had released him from his prison cell and asked them to tell the other disciples of his escape. He then left and went elsewhere, probably a short-term place of refuge and prayer.
The next day, there was “great consternation” among the guards; they were unable to explain what had happened to Peter. When King Herod heard about his escape, he ordered their execution, the usual sentence under Roman law for allowing a prisoner to escape. (Acts 12:18)
This was the second time that Peter’s Master, our Lord Jesus Christ, had sent an Angel to free him from prison. (Acts 12:3-25)
Peter slept assured that his future, should that be his beheading in the morning, was part of God’s plan; he was ready to give all for his Master’s glory.
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to your ways. May everything that I do today be for your greater honour and glory, and for the good of all whom I meet. Amen
Prayer: Renewal Prayer
give us humility wherever pride reigns,
pardon wherever offence abides,
grace wherever sin abounds;
we pray to you;
Jesus Christ, risen Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.