5/7/16 The Angel’s Touch Brings Life For The Humble Heart

For the apostles, and the whole Jerusalem community of believers, this Passover is not a very festive one.  As the days pass, they are constantly in prayer for Peter, while still mourning the death of James.  Prayer groups rotate so that petitions for Peter are offered up around the clock.  Finally, the last day of Passover comes to an end.  Peter hears a rumor that Herod is planning on presenting him for a public “trial” in the morning, but he is at peace, knowing that whether he lives or dies he is doing God’s will.  He sleeps soundly that night, though his hands and feet are still chained to the two soldiers on either side of him, and more soldiers are standing guard at the door.  He is awakened in the middle of the night, though, by a very bright light.  He opens his eyes, wondering for a moment if he has already died.  He slowly looks around to his left and right, and sees that the soldiers are all sleeping.  He feels almost the same as he did when he had the vision of the sheet with the animals in it while he was on the roof of Simon the tanner’s house.  An angel stands next to him and taps his thigh, saying, “Get up, quickly.  Tuck your robe up and put on your sandals.”  The chains fall off of him with the touch of the angel.  Peter, moving as though in a trance, does as the angel instructs him.  “Put on your cloak and come with me,” the angel says then.  Peter gets up, puts on his cloak, and follows the angel, all the while believing he is dreaming or on his way to Heaven.  The angel leads Peter out of the inner dungeon of the prison, through the courtyard, through the first guard gate, through another courtyard and the second section of prison cells, through the second guard gate, and finally through the heavy iron gate leading from the city wall into the city itself.  All the doors open by themselves before the angel, and they pass through as though invisible.  The angel leads Peter down a side street away from the prison, and then disappears.  Peter stands completely still for a few moments, trying to get his bearings.  Finally, he realizes that he is neither dreaming nor dying, but has really been freed from the prison.  He offers up a prayer of thanks, saying, “I thank you, Lord Jesus, for sending the angel to free me from the clutches of Herod and the Jewish rulers.  Please, guide my steps now.”  He continues on toward the community of believers until he comes to the home of a woman named Mary, who has a son called John Mark.  The apostles often gather here to meet and pray together.  Believing that this is where he will find his brothers, he knocks on the door.  The apostles are indeed gathered here, praying for Peter.  When they hear the knock, they freeze, wondering who could be calling on them at this hour of the night.  Is it soldiers coming to arrest another of them?  A young girl named Rhoda, who has been praying with them, volunteers to go and see.  She opens the door and sees Peter, but is so shocked and excited, she promptly slams the door in his face.  She runs to the apostles and says, “It is Peter!” but they don’t believe her.  “It can’t be Peter,” Bartholomew says, “You are seeing things.”  But Rhoda is adamant that it is indeed Peter standing at the door.  “Maybe it’s his angel you saw,” someone suggests.  Meanwhile, a somewhat bewildered Peter is still standing at the door, knocking.  This time the entire group gets up to go to the door, and they can’t believe it when they open it and do in fact see Peter standing there.  But before they can express their surprise and joy at seeing him freed, he holds up his hand to silence them.  He goes into the house and beckons to them to follow him into one of the inner rooms, where he tells them all what has just happened.  “Go, while it is still dark, and spread the word to the rest of our brothers and sisters.  Oh, and the other James, he will want to know too.  He should be on his way back into the city now.  I am going to try to sneak out of here and find a place to hide until Herod cools off a bit.”

 

Acts 12:5-17

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