Thursday after the First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Acts 12:1-25 (NKJV)
12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.
15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.
18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there. 20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.
21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.
You may have noticed a sort of ebb and flow to the accounts recorded in Acts. There are times of seeming triumph, like Peter preaching on Pentecost, and then times that seem like defeat, when James is killed and Peter is thrown into prison. Yet despite all the ups and downs that occur to God’s people in the Book of Acts, one thing remains unvarnished: “the word of God grew and multiplied.”
Such is the power of God’s Word. Nothing can stand in its way, nor will God suffer fools to think of themselves as god. In Peter, Herod thought he had captured a prize he could parade before the people. Yet God delivered Peter from prison and left Herod to the worms.
As we live our lives in the vale of tears, we find ourselves struggling against the forces of evil. Indeed, Satan wishes to devour us. But our solace is not to be found in escaping the tribulations of this world. Our comfort is when we find safe harbor in the wounds of Christ and understand that as members of His body we will share in His sufferings.
Not every Christian may receive a miraculous deliverance from evil as did Peter. But every Christian has the same promise from God that He will never leave nor forsake you, especially in the hour of death. Our strength lies within the One who has overcome death.
We pray: When life’s brief course on earth is run
And I this world am leaving,
Grant me to say: “Thy will be done,”
By faith to Thee still cleaving.
My heavenly Friend, I now commend
My soul into Thy keeping,
O’er sin and hell, And death as well,
Through Thee the victory reaping. Amen. (TLH #517, st. 4)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.