Reading for Monday, April 23: Acts 12
I apologize for running so late this week. Major paper was due, moved out of one house, into another, and closed on the house we sold yesterday. Time to get caught up.
The chapter opens on another tragic note: the death of James at the hands of Herod. This appeases the Jews so much that Herod decides to imprison Peter as well. But God isn’t finished with Peter yet. The angel of Lord shows up and a miraculous jailbreak ensues. Peter makes his way to the house of Mary — another example of the prominent role of women in the early church. There he finds the disciples praying.
This is a good place to make this observation: in times of crisis, the early church adopts the posture of prayer. In Acts 4, the last time Peter was in jail, we found the disciples in prayer. Same thing happens in this episode. From our study of Luke, we noted the role of prayer in the ministry of Jesus. Now, His disciples carry forward the same practice. Most of us have heard it all our lives, but prayer can be / should be our lifeline, a vital part of a vibrant spirituality.
Of course, there’s an irony here as well that’s instructive: the church is praying — presumably for Peter — and when news comes that he’s standing at the door, they are incredulous. “It’s not Peter! It must be his ghost!” I think there’s a word here for us: trust your prayers! Place confidence in the One who promises to hear our prayers. No matter how those prayers are answered, it’s enough for us to be heard by the One who is powerful to deliver us.
Meanwhile, Herod meets a gruesome end after refusing to give God his due glory. “And he was eaten by worms and breathed his last,” (v23). But Luke quickly reminds us of the larger picture: “But the word of God increased and multiplied,” (v24). And the chapter concludes with Barnabas and Paul returning home from Jerusalem, with John Mark in tow, ready for what God has in store for them in the next chapter.