November 20 (Daily reading: Acts 11-12) Acts 12 presents some heavenly humor in the midst of the tragic events in the life of the early church. James, the fisherman, became another martyr, killed by King Herod. The people approved this action, so he arrested Peter and assigned sixteen soldiers to guard him. On the eve of his trial, Peter was asleep in his cell, bound to two soldiers by two chains. Peter was once amazed that Jesus could sleep in a boat in the middle of a storm, but now he himself is sound asleep on what could have been the eve of his death!
Suddenly the cell was lit up by the light provided by the presence of an angel. The angel told Peter, “Get up quickly!” The chains fell off, and as they exited past two other bands of guards, the doors opening before them. It was only when they were outside, and the angel had departed, that Peter knew for sure it was not a dream! He went immediately to the house of the mother of John Mark, where the church was praying for him. Rhoda, a servant girl, went to the door, but when she heard Peter’s voice, she ran back to tell the others. They told her she was crazy, but when she insisted, they said, “It must be his angel.” All this time, Peter was still knocking! We should never be surprised when God answers our prayers!
The sixteen guards and Herod died after that event, but Peter lived to preach another day! Luke reported the results of this persecution: “But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied” (12:24). This story is an answer to the prayer that the disciples prayed in Acts 4:30 (NIV), “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
– Al Gary