In our reading Sunday, my wife and I were in Acts 11 and 12. When we read Acts 12, I had to chuckle at what happened, and yet also reflected how often what happened then happens now.
In ch. 12, Herod had decided to persecute the church at Jerusalem. He put to death James, the brother of John. Because this greatly pleased the Jews, with whom the Herods pretty much always had uneasy relationships, he also imprisoned Peter. V. 5 tells us that constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. What happens next always impresses me: on the night before Peter was to be brought out, probably to be executed, that night Peter was sleeping…. (!)
I wonder what you and I would do under similar circumstances.
Well, Peter is miraculously released, which ultimately cost the lives of 16 Roman soldiers and went to where many was gathered together for prayer. This is where Rhoda comes in.
So excited was she to hear Peter’s voice on the other side of the door that she didn’t open it, but ran and told the others, “Peter’s outside the door! Peter’s outside the door!”
Their response? –
In the vernacular of our day, “You’re out of your mind!”
“No! He’s outside, he’s outside!”
“It must be his angel.” This from one of the more spiritual brothers.
Well – finally – they opened the door, and the Word says that they were…
(Looking in the mirror) – how often we are “astonished” when the Lord answers prayer unexpectedly, as He did here. I don’t know exactly what the believers were praying for when they prayed for him, but it evidently wasn’t that he would just show up at the door!
How often – too often – we’re like the man in Mark 9, who came to the Lord about his son and said, “…if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I think the Lord was very emphatic in the first part of His reply when He said, “If you can believe – all things are possible to him who believes.”
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:17-24.
Aye, there’s a prayer for us poor believers!
“Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief!”